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Wolfram's new website can identify objects in your photos

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
May 14, 2015
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Wolfram Research can already do some pretty cool things, like answer Twitter questions and spot overhead flights. Now, the maker of the Mathematica programming language and Alpha knowledge engine can perform another trick: figuring out what's in a photo. The Wolfram Language Image Identification Project can make out about 10,000 common things, including animal species, gadgets and household objects. It uses a database of around ten million images to perform the trick, which Stephen Wolfram figures "is comparable to the number of distinct views of objects that humans get in their first couple of years of life."

The project joins Google Goggles, Amazon Firefly and recent Microsoft research at the forefront of image recognition. Wolfram uses neural networks to build up layers of detail starting with individual pixels and finishing with specific object features. The system learns as it goes, allowing you to enter better object definitions if it guesses wrong or is too vague. It will also let programmers build image identification into their apps. Wolfram said, "It won't always get it right, but most of the time I think it does remarkably well. What's particularly fascinating is that when it does get something wrong, the mistakes it makes mostly seem remarkable human." Judging by the amusing collection of mistakes (above) we couldn't agree more, but feel free to give it a try with your own photos.

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