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Your next Android phone might be able to recognize the objects around you

Google has acquired a startup that develops machine learning and visual recognition algorithms to allow your smartphone to recognize objects and images.

Published onJuly 6, 2016

Moodstocks object recognition

Google has just acquired a French startup company called Moodstocks that focuses on object recognition software for smartphones. The tech uses deep learning and AI – similar to Google’s object-recognition software – to identify images and objects. The key difference is it processes almost everything locally; Google’s efforts to this point have had servers doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Putting the data-crunching on the smartphone itself makes for ultra-fast recognition capabilities.

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Despite Google’s already impressive machine learning and AI recognition capabilities, it notes that “there is still much to be done in this area.” According to Google’s blog post about the acquisition, Moodstocks “develops new algorithms for visual recognition and machine learning, as well as a technology for the recognition of images and objects on mobile devices”. If this technology doesn’t end up baked into Android in the near future I would be very surprised. I’m hoping for the Android O release.

Our goal has always been to give eyes to machines by turning cameras into smart sensors able to make sense of their surroundings.

Moodstocks’ website notes that its goal has always been to “give eyes to machines by turning cameras into smart sensors able to make sense of their surroundings.” You can see the obvious similarities in sentiment between Moodstocks work and Google’s own Project Tango. Moodstocks debuted on-device image recognition back in 2012 and has spent the last couple of years working on object recognition.

The Moodstocks team has been acquired along with the company and will shift to Google’s French R&D center. As the company notes on its site: “we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to join forces with Google in order to deploy our work at scale.” Google is rumored to be working on an image-recognition feature that will work via the gallery app on already-taken photos, but it is unclear if that is what prompted the acquisition. Either way, the addition of Moodstocks’ tech will push Google’s smartphone-based AI capabilities along nicely.

Do you use Google Photos’ image search? Are you looking forward to AI-enabled smartphones?

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