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Siri Photo Search System Detailed in New Apple Patent

Siri may be able to search through and tag user photos in the future, according to a new Apple patent application published today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider). Entitled "Voice-based Image Tagging and Searching," the application describes a system allowing digital images to be tagged with various identifiers like the name of a person, a location, or an activity in a photograph, which can then be searched for via voice commands given to a "voice-based digital assistant," aka Siri.

A user could, for example, take a photograph and then speak a description of what is in the photograph. Saying a phrase like “this is me at the beach” would automatically tag a photo with the appropriate information, which could later be recalled with a simple voice-based search. Apple specifies that beyond spoken information, additional tags could be added such as a user name and location.

siriphotosearch
Moreover, because the natural-language processing is capable of inferring additional information, the tags may include additional information that the user did not explicitly say (such as the name of the person to which "me" refers), and which creates a more complete and useful tag.

Once a photograph is tagged using the disclosed tagging techniques, other photographs that are similar may be automatically tagged with the same or similar information, thus obviating the need to tag every similar photograph individually. And when a user wishes to search among his photographs, he may simply speak a request: "show me photos of me at the beach."
According to Apple, the ever increasing number of digital photographs stored on electronic devices like the iPhone have created a need for "systematic cataloging" to facilitate improved organization and simpler image searches. Current approaches to photo tagging, Apple says, are "non-intuitive, arduous, and time-consuming," with voice-based photo tagging representing a dramatic increase in both the speed and convenience of photo tagging.

Beyond recording information based on spoken text strings, Apple also suggests that its system could automatically tag photographs based on previously captured user images and data, recognizing faces, buildings, and landscapes. Based on the stored photographic data, users could then conduct voice searches via Siri, quickly locating all relevant images.

Apple first began improving its photo organizational systems with iOS 7, revamping the Photos app with information on when and where photos were taken. Images within the app can be organized into "Moments" using this information, which already provides a solid basis for the addition of photo searches to Siri in the future.

The patent application, which was originally filed on March 13, 2013 and published today, lists former Apple employee Jan Erik Solem and Thijs Willem Stalenhoef as inventors. As with all of Apple's patents and patent applications, it is unclear when and if the technology will make it into a final product.

Top Rated Comments

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12 months ago
"This is my lunch"

"These are my shoes"

"This is my daily morning selfie"
Rating: 11 Votes
12 months ago

Moreover, because the natural-language processing is capable of inferring additional information, the tags may include additional information that the user did not explicitly say


Get ready for Siri to infer mood based on vocal inflection:

"Romove all pictures of Sarah!"

"Hmm, sounds like things aren't going too well with her… would my company be appreciated tonight?"
Rating: 8 Votes
12 months ago

Based on the stored photographic data, users could then conduct voice searches via Siri, quickly locating all relevant images.


Next year: "Siri - create an album of all photos I took of Jane last year."

Five years from now: "Siri - find out everything about the blonde woman in the red dress behind Jane in this photo."
Rating: 4 Votes
12 months ago

They already got everything set up with their face recognition software. Anyone remember "Faces" feature in iPhoto? All Siri really needs to do is understand the command of "Look for Sara's pictures" and Siri will just look at all files where "Sara" is tagged.

Adding on to that should be easy given it is just expanding the face tagging and Siri interconnectivity.

I wonder what percentage of iOS users actually have a Mac and download to iPhoto?

Most of the tagging already done in instagram/facebook and the other picture solutions out there, they also will be very easy to filter/find.
Rating: 1 Votes
12 months ago

over the past 2 years, i've never used Siri once on my iphone

truly useless :rolleyes:

After two years, I finally started using Siri. When I'm out hiking, I've asked "what time does the sun set," I've said "shuffle my exercise playlist," "skip song," and "remind me to move the car tomorrow morning at 7am."

Those little conveniences are nice, but beyond that, I haven't really had any use for it. The one time I tried to dictate a text message it bungled it up pretty badly. And half the time I tell it to skip to the next song, it tells me "you have no new voice messages."
Rating: 1 Votes
12 months ago
this is all good now allow us to store out photo collections in the cloud 64 or even 128GB device is not going to allow me to store all my stuff on it. allowing a way for apple to keep these backed up will give the much needed push to allow more to move to the " Post PC Era"
Rating: 1 Votes
12 months ago

I really hope they can make it so I can just say "I'm looking for that picture of my pumpkin carving" or whatever and it'll find them for me. I have SO MANY pictures. I want them all on there -- and while iOS7's new organization feature helps, it's still hard if I don't know the timeframe a picture was taken.

This will be the first good use of Siri for me if this happens.


"set timer for 30 minutes" "wake me up in 8 hours" "directions to mcdonalds" "note that leonard1818 is missing out on lots of stuff" are all good uses for siri that are generally quicker than doing the task manually with taps and swipes.

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Tried to turn off all my alarms for yesterday... Siri's only allowed to turn alarms on. Still lots of improvement needed.


I have most definitely used siri to delete alarms, so you can at least do that.

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over the past 2 years, i've never used Siri once on my iphone

truly useless :rolleyes:


Maybe you should try it out, it is good for certain things. you are missing out. not using it doesn't make it useless, just unused.
Rating: 1 Votes
12 months ago

Tried to turn off all my alarms for yesterday... Siri's only allowed to turn alarms on. Still lots of improvement needed.


"Cancel all alarms" works for me.
Rating: 1 Votes
12 months ago
Tried to turn off all my alarms for yesterday... Siri's only allowed to turn alarms on. Still lots of improvement needed.
Rating: 1 Votes
12 months ago

I have notes (all here in my MacBook Pro) made by me in the 1980s of a system like this, and it does a lot more.

And others have proposed the same, so amazed Apple can get away with this patent.


The difference is Apple will make it whereas you didn't.

This sounds pretty cool. Yes, faces and places aren't too hard, but you could add tags for things that aren't so easy to identify. IE, my fiancé likes to take pictures of food that she makes or friends make. This could help her with sorting all of them - something that facial recognition and GPS can't help with.

IE, "This is a dessert I made for our anniversary." or "This is pasta Sarah made."
Rating: 1 Votes

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