Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We Want Tech and We Want It Now

Facial Recognition and the Ancestry Insider Ancestor At a luncheon during this year’s National Genealogical Society conference David Rencher presented a top 10 list of technologies he wished developers would hurry up and create. Some of these are already available, at least in infant form. I thought you would enjoy seeing some of the list and reviewing the available technologies.

First came two honorable mentions.

Media Migration

“Help me transfer my media to new formats,” plead Rencher. “And could you make it intuitive?”

This is  good wakeup call for me—and probably you—to perform badly needed media migrations. If I weren’t going to be out of town this weekend, I would transfer cassette recordings of my grandparents to CD-ROM. They’ve sat untouched for 20 years, so they have probably deteriorated significantly. I guess one more week won’t make much difference…

What can technology do in this area? Cloud Computing.

One of the advantages of cloud computing is that media migration is handled for you. That should be easy enough for most of us—if we ever get around to migrating photos, recordings, and videos to the cloud to begin with…

Facial Recognition

Rencher wanted facial recognition technology to help identify people in unlabeled photographs.

Google Picasa  offers face recognition for free. Learn more from Kathi Reid, “How Google Picasa Face Recognition Software Can Help Genealogists,” Ancestor Seek Blog.

The MyHeritage.com genealogy website also advertises free face recognition. See http://celebrity.myheritage.com/face-recognition .

I tried uploading my photo to see if they saw any similarity between me and Homer Simpson, but MyHeritage couldn’t pick out my face.

So I tried Tim Sullivan, head of Ancestry.com. With look-alikes Johnny Depp, Pierce Brosnan, Henry Fonda, and Richard Gere, Tim is obviously leading-man material.

His closest match? Johnny Depp, pirate and mad hatter.

Next I had to try Jay Verkler, head of FamilySearch.

Ronald Regan and George W. Bush. Wow. Apparently, Jay looks very presidential. And republican. And apparently, MyHeritage doesn’t have Mitt Romney in their celebrity file.

His closest match? Patrick Swayze, that guy who came back from the dead to dictate his genealogy to Demi Moore. (Hey, you remember the movie the way you want and I’ll remember it the way I want.)

Can’t see Sullivan and Verklers’ celebrity look-alike graphic to the right? Click to see it on the Ancestry Insider website.

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