Google machine-learning system can figure out where you snapped a pic – without GPS

There’s more to taking pictures than just capturing pixels, and for photographers looking to put together a really robust gallery of all their snapshots over the years, meta data is key. We want to keep track of when we took a shot, where we took it, and maybe even who’s in it. That issue of “where” is easy enough when we’ve got location services enabled, but what if accidentally had it disabled for a while, or are importing a bunch of pics that somehow got their EXIF data from them along the way? Google’s been cooking up a new tool that attempts to roughly figure out where a photograph was taken – without using any GPS data at all.

Google’s team used a neural network to analyze 91 million images from points around the globe – pictures that still had embedded location data. After analyzing that set and looking for patterns, the system, now called PlaNet, is able to make an educated guess as to where a shot came from.

It’s far from perfect – figures right now have it guessing the correct city an image was taken in just over 10 percent of the time – but it’s only getting better. At larger scaled, accuracy is even better, naming the correct country 28.4 percent of the time, or correct continent in 48 percent of pics.

We don’t imagine PlaNet will replace GPS-based geotagging any time soon, but it’s still a fascinating experiment in machine learning, and one that could lead to some impressive, unexpected use cases as the technology matures.

Source: MIT Technology Review
Via: The Verge

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Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!