February 28, 2016

"Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist at Google, and a couple of pals...have trained a deep-learning machine to work out the location of almost any photo using only the pixels it contains."

Technology Review: Their new machine significantly outperforms humans and can even use a clever trick to determine the location of indoor images and pictures of specific things such as pets, food, and so on that have no location cues. via Emerging Technology from the arXiv

'Their approach is straightforward, at least in the world of machine learning. Weyand and co begin by dividing the world into a grid consisting of over 26,000 squares of varying size that depend on the number of images taken in that location. So big cities, which are the subjects of many images, have a more fine-grained grid structure than more remote regions where photographs are less common. Indeed, the Google team ignored areas like oceans and the polar regions, where few photographs have been taken.

'Next, the team created a database of geolocated images from the Web and used the location data to determine the grid square in which each image was taken. This data set is huge, consisting of 126 million images along with their accompanying Exif location data. Weyand and co used 91 million of these images to teach a powerful neural network to work out the grid location using only the image itself. Their idea is to input an image into this neural net and get as the output a particular grid location or a set of likely candidates.

'They then validated the neural network using the remaining 34 million images in the data set. Finally they tested the network—which they call PlaNet—in a number of different ways to see how well it works.'

"PlaNet - Photo Geolocation with Convolutional Neural Networks" by Tobias Weyand, Ilya Kostrikov, and James Philbin here

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