Xerox Corporation

Xerox Researchers Crack the Code on Easier Ways to Cut Through the Clutter of Documents and Photos

Say you are a graphic designer working for a global health organization. You need to find a photograph that conveys how important good medical practices are to the lives of children. It’s a rush job, and you know that even with today’s imaging technology it’s going to take hours to sift through large photo collections and find the perfect shot.

A team of Xerox Corporation researchers has invented technologies that make it simple to find the exact images you need to illustrate and communicate your message. The imaging tools are available in the company’s online technology portal called Open Xerox, a website that allows customers to demo new inventions and provide feedback.

Developed at the Xerox Research Centre Europe, the four new tools analyze, classify and retrieve images and collections in creative ways. For example, one tool can sort photo collections according to a particular aesthetic style instead of a basic category.

The tools make it easy to manage overflowing collections of information, documents and images. “The hands-on demos on Open Xerox illustrate how our imaging technology can be used to solve real business problems,” said Craig Saunders, manager of Xerox’s European computer vision research group. “We put these tools out there for anyone to tinker with -- from someone working in marketing or an individual with a large collection of photographs. It’s innovation that showcases Xerox’s deep knowledge of imaging analytics and capability to pull context from massive amounts of content.”

The new imaging demos are:

  • Similar Image Search – Capable of searching five million images in less than a second on a standard desktop computer, this technology allows anyone to search through large collections of high-quality photos, digital assets, or graphic design elements and to pinpoint the exact item they need. Xerox is working on a cloud-based version that will be able to provide real-time search of hundreds of millions of images.

The technology behind Similar Image Search can be used to help organize and query all types of image-based repositories, from large photo stock databases, enterprise scale digital document repositories or a personal photo collection on your desktop.

  • Image Categorizer – A recent winner of the International Imagenet benchmarking challenge in image classification, this technology automatically classifies images according to their content. Targeted at advertisers, marketers or photographers who manage large collections of images, it uses machine learning techniques and image processing algorithms to analyze and classify image categories. For example, textual queries such as find a “sunset,” an “apple” or a “daisy” will work without having to previously tag each image.
  • Aesthetic Image Search – Many current methods for image classification are based on recognition of parts -- if you find some wheels and a road, then the picture is more likely to contain a car than a giraffe. In order to determine the aesthetic quality or stylistic elements of an image, a new approach is needed. Using the image categorizer, this new prototype demo tackles the difficult task of trying to learn what makes an image special and unique. For example, good beach photos are often characterized by silky waves obtained by a long camera exposure. The algorithm will detect such photos. Applications enable the capability to search large photo databases; helping to select the best photos for printing or finding a particular style of image inside a vast collection.
  • Catepix – Sophisticated image analysis technology is used in this fun application that will analyze your Facebook photos and tell you what your photos say about your personality. Add it to your profile and find out what it says about you!

By making technology available through Open Xerox, the company invites customers, partners, technology experts and early adopters to play with the demos. “We want to know what you think, so we can continue to refine and test our technology to meet practical needs that simplify the way work gets done,” said Saunders.