Apple purchases Regaind, a French photo analysis company with a powerful API in development
TechCrunch claims that Apple purchased Regaind earlier this year. Regaind is a French company which is developing an API for analyzing photos to identify objects and scenes. It is the type of technology that allows a user to type “beach” or “car” and have their phone or computer present photos which it has automatically deemed to contain a beach or a car.
This sort of technology is already available in services from Microsoft, Google, and even Apple themselves, but the implementation by Regaind has the advantage of also including additional analysis techniques to assess the image for technical and aesthetic values. Not only can the API assign over 3500 search labels, but it can also provide feedback on aesthetics, sharpness, exposure, colors, and properties — including details such as the age, gender, and mood of human subjects. Finally, the API can approximate the principal focal point of the image and suggest a smart crop based on this, although the suggestions given aren’t necessarily a better composition than the original, just different, so user judgment is still required.
An obvious use for Apple would be to improve the features on offer by their iOS intelligent photo search functions. But the API could also be integrated into consumer or professional products to reduce the time spent sorting through hundreds of event photos, by letting the API segregate all the images that have major irreparable faults, such as being out of focus. Additionally, a printing service could run the API on their website or in-store machines allowing the customer to assess their photos quickly. For in-store machines this would decrease turn-around time, improving the earning efficiency of each device, and for website use, it would provide a competitive advantage and reduce the likelihood of an overwhelmed customer backing out of an order. TechCrunch wonders whether Apple’s intentions for the API are to integrate the facial technology with their FaceID functionality, although there might be privacy problems associated with this.
It will be interesting to see whether Apple integrates the API directly with their products, or if this purchase was a prediction of an area that will grow rapidly.