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Riya photo site recognizes faces

Feb 20, 20062 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Riya photo storage and sharing service that recognizes text and faces

I’ve been blogging and writing about Demo 2006 quite a bit since I was at the show earlier this month. There were a lot cool products on show, which sounds like a weak joke given that MooBella, creators of a high-tech ice cream vending machine (any of 90 flavors freshly made in 45 seconds) was a participant. (Head to the Demo Web site for more insights and blog posts from Network World’s Demo News Team.)

In the Web applications space there were some interesting products. Today, I want to discuss just one that is really fascinating: Riya from Ojos.

Riya is a Web-based photo storage and sharing service that adds what has been missing in both online and desktop products: face and text recognition.

The demo at Demo 2006 was fascinating. A set of pictures that had been uploaded to a Web site was used. The Riya system was trained to recognize a child’s face – a task accomplished by a nice drag and drop AJAX interface that allows you to associate faces with tags or vice versa.

You can also use the training data that has been compiled by any of your contacts who also use Riya or by Bulk Training for photos that Riya has automatically grouped as similar.

Riya not only recognizes faces, it recognizes names anywhere in picture – on signs, on chalkboards, and so on. You can browse photo collections by a person’s name, albums, time, location, tag text, or perform a free text search.

In the demo, the name Riya (one of the founder’s children) was easily found including photos she wasn’t in but in which her name was written on a whiteboard.

So what does it cost to use Riya? “Riya is totally free! It costs you nothing to search your photos, your friends’ photos and all of the public photos on Riya.” There is no limit to the number of photos you can add to Riya photo search; no bandwidth limit, no serving limit, and no hosting limit (note though that while Riya isn’t a hosting service and it only keeps an 800 x 600 version along with a thumbnail of your photos for search purposes.

At present Riya is not open but you can register for a free account. I think this company is ripe for acquisition by one of the big boys.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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