Riding the Riya Wave

Apparently the marketing plan for Riya isbloggers and online “word-of-mouth“. Thisseems to be paying off very well: Many are  about ordiscussing this “amazing” product, and how it’s going torevolutionize the photo tagging world. Flickr(Yahoo!) and Google are going to be knocking down theirdoor trying to get a piece of that action!

Remarkable, though, how incredibly few people haveactually used the product, and how few will actually vouch for itscapabilities. If you want to sign-up currently, and try the productout yourself, it’s an “invite only” affair (though strangelyyou have to send them your email address – That’s not invite only.That’s a lottery system). Despite the so-called press (see theWired article above) heaping on strangely uncriticalpraise, no credible reviewer has had a round with the software.Odd, wouldn’t you say Wouldn’t it make sense to get a respectedreviewer to vouch for its capabilities before firing up the presswagons? Someone credible who would put it through its pacesand either credit or discredit it, putting their actual career onthe line if they misrepresented it.

Facial and scene recognition is easy in theory – it’s somethingwe’ve all imagined up, inventing our own naive ways to do it – butin reality it is extremely difficult. Yetthese guys not only managed to leap the gigantic hurdle of facialrecognition (including discerning among incredibly similar people -close relatives, and supposedly even twins), but they added infantastic, unparalleled text detection as well (in one casepurportedly reading a tiny car logo sloped about 70 degrees awayfrom the camera, among other fairly impressive feats).

When it comes to revolutionary technologies like face/scenerecognition, it is critically important towithhold judgement until it actually proves itself in thereal world (and no – I’m not being hypocritical.I’m not saying it doesn’t work – I honestly don’t know – but I’mjust say that without proof otherwise claims of revolution seem alittle premature). Facial recognition in particular is a fieldfilled with hucksters and fraudsters, grosslyoverselling the capabilities of their system with dummied up samplecases and ridiculously ideal scenarios (or even worse – “mechanicalturks” have been known to occur). I consider facial recognitionmuch like the compression market – how many times have we heardabout revolutionarynew compression technologies, sold through jimmied up demos and”observers” on the dole, that in the end turned out to be nothingbut afraud (or a completely impractical edge scenario that is of novalue in the real world).

I have no idea if this particular product is legitimate or not,but the lack of credible analysis thus far makes the growing chorusof revolution a bit difficult to stomach.