Picasa Facial Recognition

A few weeks ago, I started playing around with Picasa to create a photo album. I let it import all of the photos on my computer (approximately 10,000 photos taken over a six or seven year period) and then started looking through all of them. While messing around, I decided to turn on the facial recognition feature and was absolutely amazed at how well Picasa was able to detect faces.

Out of all of the photographs on my computer, the overwhelming majority of which contain multiple faces, Picasa only identified a small handful of items that weren’t actually faces. Then, when I started assigning names to the faces that had been identified, I was flabbergasted at how accurately Picasa was able to identify the same person’s face in other photographs. Within minutes, I had nearly 5,000 faces identified and labeled within my Picasa installation.

What really amazed me was the ability to identify faces that appeared distorted within the photos. In all of the photographs that were taken in our living room, there are family portraits in the background. Picasa found each of the faces in all instances of those background photos and grouped them together for identification. There are even instances where photos were taken with the television turned on in the background, and it identified faces within the television picture.

After a few hours more work, I am now down to a total of 1,150 faces that have yet to be identified. The majority of those are incidental people that happened to be in the frame while taking photos of people I know.

I do wish that Picasa would store the facial identifications in the photos’ meta data, though. It’s unfortunate to have done all of this work and not be able to import it easily anywhere else. As of this point in time (Picasa 3.6.0 on Windows), there still does not appear to be a way to easily export/import facial data within Picasa. I dual-boot between Windows 7 and Linux Mint and have Picasa installed on both, working from a common library of photographs, but can’t use the facial data I’ve created in Windows within my Linux installation.

I hope that Google will implement some sort of meta tagging for the faces in photographs at some point in the near future. Can you imagine being able to upload a photo from Picasa to somewhere like Facebook or Flickr and have all of the faces in the photo automatically tagged?