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Swedish spin-off launches photo-based search engine

A spin-off company in Sweden hopes to launch the first ever Internet search engine that can find photographs of people by analysing pictures and identifying faces by the end of the year.

The search engine will be the first of its kind, and is the result of research carried ...

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A spin-off company in Sweden hopes to launch the first ever Internet search engine that can find photographs of people by analysing pictures and identifying faces by the end of the year.

The search engine will be the first of its kind, and is the result of research carried out at the Universities of Lund and Malmö. The project has been led by Jan Erik Solem, who has written a dissertation showing how computers can be made, using mathematical processes, to create three-dimensional models of objects or persons on the basis of regular photographs.

'Much of our research is geared to automating work at the computer. In city planning, for example, and architecture, many hours of work are devoted to creating 3D models manually. If that process can be simplified, there will be incredible amounts of money saved. Another conceivable area of use is in gaming, where this technology would make it possible to put objects into the virtual world by photographing them,' says Mr Solem.

Mr Solem is so confident about the technology that he has already launched a company, called Polar Rose, to commercialise it. The engine will undergo testing by a number of beta-users. 'Since there is no such search service in existence today, it's going to be really exciting to see how it is received. And if it's a success, then we'll be saddled with the luxury problem of competing with giants like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo,' he says.

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Sweden