It appears that Hitachi has developed and refined a search technology called Visual Search, which is able to locate images similar to a specified one from among millions of static images or video data.
The time needed for such a complex and time-consuming feat? All of one second.
Here's an excerpt from the article Hitachi's Visual Search finds similar images from millions of targets in 1 second:
The technology assesses the similarity of images based on image characteristics presented as high-dimensional numeric information. The information is acquired by automatically detecting information regarding the images, such as color distribution and shapes. The technology can be applied to video search as well.
Dissecting the technology, it appears that this amazing feat is achieved via a two-phase process. The two phases are using a two-step search clustering technology, as well as much faster reading as a result of optimized data allocation on the physical disk.
Essentially, when the image library is first registered, the technology stores them accordingly into clusters of similar characteristics. Key information about a particular cluster is written into memory as part of a super fast lookup table.
The latter step leverages upon optimizing the cluster allocation and placing data from the same cluster in succession on the HDD.
You know, while all these sound very academia and all, I think the implications of the improvements here where search technology is concerned can have huge ramifications in the future.
Countries like the United Kingdom (and many others) are increasingly relying on digital surveillance to increase security and also as a form of active deterrence against terrorism. How useful this is in reality remains to be seen. However, the fact is that digital fingerprints of our daily movements is accumulated.
Now, with the price of storage media to store them constantly dropping, it is not hard to imagine a near future in which video recorded can be archived into perpetuity.
Will there come a time where our children can do an image google of us on newly “de-classified” archives and watch Daddy board the subway for work in his younger days – before he even met Mum?