Apple patent would let you tag photos with just your voice
posted Friday, December 27, 2013 at 12:50 PM EST
Keeping track of a mass of photos is a mess, especially on mobile devices. Sure, on your desktop you can use Lightroom's (or another app's) powerful tagging tools to keep your thousands of images straight, but it's not that easy on your smartphone. But a newly awarded patent from Apple would make it much easier, by allowing you to use natural language to speak to your phone, which it would then parse into searchable tags.
The new patent was spotted by AppleInsider, and reads as a natural extension from the sort of spoken language tools that Apple has been using with Siri. Officially called "Voice-Based Image Tagging and Searching", it would allow you to say something like "this is me at the beach", and have the system tag the image with you, and the beach itself. As the patent explains:
Once a photograph is tagged using the disclosed tagging techniques, other photographs that are similar may be automatically tagged with the same or similar information, thus obviating the need to tag every similar photograph individually. And when a user wishes to search among his photographs, he may simply speak a request: "show me photos of me at the beach."
It sounds like there would be a fair amount of automation involved as well, as the system might be able to use face and scene recognition to fill out many of the tags for you, so that you don't need to specify every single thing. And the addition of natural language based searching, something Siri is already pretty decent at, would also make it more easy to track down the photos you want.
Apple already took steps to auto-organize images with iOS 7, and given its attention to Siri, this seems an organic move from there. But that doesn't mean it'll definitely come to pass — Apple's patent library is stocked with technology that never went anywhere. But this patent does seem to be a fairly believable one — and the idea of telling your phone "show me pictures of me on the beach" in the middle of winter does sound pretty inviting.