Category: Computer Software

People-tagging of photos–a valuable aid for dementia sufferers

Facebook started it. Windows Live Photo Gallery has implemented it since the 2010 version and made it easier with the 2011 version.

What is people-tagging

The feature I am talking about here is the ability to attach a metadata tag that identifies a particular person that appear in a digital image. These implementations typically have the tag applied to a specific area of the photo, usually defining the face or head of the person concerned. It will also become available in current or up-and-coming versions of other image-management programs, photo-sharing services, DLNA media servers and the like.

In the case of DLNA media servers, one of these programs could scan an image library and make a UPnP AV content-directory “tree” based on the people featured in one’s photo library.

Initially the concept, especially the Facebook implementation, was treated with fear and scorn because of privacy invasion. This is because this implementation allows the metadata to be related to particular Facebook Friends and also allows the photo to be commented on by other Facebook Friends. Now the Windows Live Photo Gallery application attaches this metadata in a standardised XML form to the JPEG file like it does with the description tags and geotags. There is the ability to make a copy of this file without the metadata for use in posting to Internet services.

A relevant implementation idea

One key benefit that I would see with this data when implemented with electronic picture frames, HDTVs and similar devices is the ability to overlay the tags over the picture when it is shown. This could be achieved by the user pressing a “display” or similar button on the device or its remote control. Devices with touchscreens, stylus-operated tablet screens or other pointer-driven “absolute” navigation setups could support a function that shows a “people tag” as you touch areas of the image.

Benefit to Alzheimers sufferers

Here, this feature could help people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related illnesses by helping them remember whom their family members or friends are. If the user is using an image-management program or DLNA media-server setup capable of using these tags, they can call up a collection of images of the person they think of and have those images appearing on the screen. If the device has a communications-terminal function like a telephone, one of the images can be used as an index image to remember the correspondent by. This function could be extended by the use of an automatically-updated index image or a screenshow that shows “key” images of the person.

Improving on the idea

To make this work, there needs to be an industry standard that defines how the people-tag metadata is stored on the JPEG file. As well, the standard has to support functions like one or more separate “nickname” fields for each of the people that can be displayed as an option.  This is because a person may be known to one or more other people via a nickname or relative-shortcut name (Mummy, Daddy, Nonna, etc).

Another issue is to encourage users to establish consistency whenever they tag up a collection of images. This could be achieved through “batch-tagging” and / or improved facial recognition in image-management tools. This may be an issue if two or more people are tagging images from their own collections to serve a third collection and they know the people via different names.

Conclusion

Once we cut through the hysteria surrounding people-tagging with digital images and focus on using it as part of desktop image-management systems rather than social networks, we can then see it as a tool for helping people remember whom their loved ones are.

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A feature that PowerPoint and other presentation software need – improvements for creating video and related works

Introduction

Most of us who use Microsoft PowerPoint or most other business presentation software often want to use the software to make TV-quality title and graphics slides for video productions that we create with other video software, usually the software that is considered to be affordable for most users. This also includes preparing menu trees for DVD and Blu-Ray projects that are being built with affordable software. These needs will become more common as people use affordable video equipment to prepare video material as a way of augmenting their blogs, presenting on YouTube or even exhibiting through community television broadcasters.

As well, an increasing amount of affordable consumer video playback devices such as DVD players, TVs, electronic picture frames and network media players are capable of showing JPEG images, Now many users want to be able to push these commonly-available devices in to service as cost-effective “digital signage”. This is something I have talked about in my article on using DLNA-enabled equipment in the small business.

User-determined bitmap-export resolution

Most of this software doesn’t provide a way of allowing the user to have control over the resolution of the JPEG or other bitmap images that they create when the export the slides to these formats. This is a feature that I would consider being very important as I know that the presentation programs keep the graphics for each of the slides as a vector format which is drawn on the screen rather than a “raster” format which is an array of pixels. This then allows a user of these programs to make the aforementioned “TV-quality” graphics using them no matter the size of their screen.

One common situation where the user may need to adjust the resolution when exporting to JPEG is to prepare quick-loading images that are in small files for use on a device with a small display. One obvious example would be a low-end electronic picture frame which would have  a small display size and another would typically be a mobile phone or portable media player with less than VGA resolution.

Another situation would eventuate in the form of a person who uses a laptop or small desktop screen with a low resolution display to create a presentation. Then they want to export the JPEG files to a playback situation capable of handling high-resolution images like a BD-Live Blu-Ray player connected via HDMI to a large direct-view screen or a projector. Similarly, the images could be used as part of a high-definition video production and there is the desire for that high-definition “crispness” in the images.

The user could be presented with a series of resolutions for the JPEG exports with these resolutions conforming to the aspect ratio for the presentations as part of exporting the images. As well, there could be the support for users to set the default image resolutions for particular aspect ratios and presentation types. The function could be simplified by use of an “SD” option for standard-definition output, an “HD1” option for 720-line high-definition output and an “HD2” option for 1080-line high-definition output.

Improved “export-to-video” and video integration

Another function worth considering would be to provide “export-to-video” functionality for animated presentations so one can make the presentations out as regular SD or HD video files with a choice of common codecs and packaging methods.

As well, in the case of Microsoft PowerPoint, this program could have integrated functionality with Windows Live Movie Maker. This free program, which is the only video-editing program that Microsoft sells, could support such functionality as “create slide or animation in PowerPoint” so that users can prepare slides in PowerPoint then turn them in to video content using this program.

Conclusion

These kind of improvements can allow users to put business presentation software to use in improving the quality of the video or “digital signage” they create with other affordable tools.

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