Posts Tagged ‘Internet of Things’

When Facebook asked Buddha to be Tagged

In Education, Embedded Systems on May 25, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Facebook has this face recognition feature. It automatically recognizes faces in uploaded pics and then provided the option to tag the faces that its software has managed to recognize in those images. It is very successful most of the time. Face recognition is a very active field of research with many groups working on it. It is now part of security systems, the simplest example being laptops that have facial recognition feature for unlocking.

 Now, take a look at the image below. It shows two statues of Buddha at the 10,000 Buddha temple in Hong Kong.

Buddha Statues at 10,000 Buddha Temple, Hong Kong


When it was uploaded to FB, the software identified the two faces in this photograph and asked for tags! It was quite a surprise for me and it made me realize a limitation with existing facial recognition technology. Existing technology cannot differentiate between real human faces or faces which are part of a “non-human” element. This is one reason why facial recognition technology is known to be fooled using images. One can login to a system by showing an image of the person with authorized access. This was discussed by USA Today here. This is also the reason why high security establishments may go for multi-modal authorization in which facial recognition is just one part.

I guess for facial recognition technology to be truly a single point solution for authorization, it will have to learn to distinguish between human and non-human elements. The road ahead has a lot of interesting challenges!

The Internet of Things

In Embedded Systems, Engineering Principles, Interdisciplinary Science on November 29, 2012 at 2:43 PM

When I first attended a presentation on “The Internet of Things”, I was not very excited. It turned out to be nothing more than a glorified description of sensor networks. Though this phrase was first used in 1999 as reported in an article in RFID journal, it has been interpreted in many different ways by different people. Trying to find a way through that maze of descriptions is really difficult. However, after reading a lot about it and based on my own understanding of embedded systems, sensor networks and systems engineering, I would like to share what it means for a non-technical audience. I find it best to explain through examples. Take the case of a smart home. You can control the appliances in your home while driving your car as there is a communication network that links you up with them while you are driving. Your smartphone connects you to the internet where you can shop, play games together with your friends and download apps that make your phone more versatile. It syncs with your email accounts and any sync enabled application, helps you make payments on the go (mobile banking), provide access to your data anywhere through cloud based tools like dropbox etc.. The GPS on your phone helps you find your way in a city by showing you on a city map that has been downloaded on to your phone using a wi-fi or similar data connection. You can drive almost safely even in a city new for you! These examples demonstrate an interaction between humans, electronic devices which may have sensors, mechanical devices and the traditional internet. By traditional internet I mean the internet which was seen initially  as just a repository of information and which has now grown to include processing engines like  those which facilitate “voice enabled search and SMS” on your smartphones, storage and compute space for cloud applications (like Amazon’s EC service) etc. Thus the “Internet of Things” is nothing but a network where human actions, electrical and mechanical devices and the internet come together to interact in a meaningful way. The scope of this interaction can be as varied and wide as possible depending on the intended result.