If you rely on just a single camera while travelling, it's easy to organise your photos by time and date when you get home. But most of us use multiple cameras, smartphones and action cams to document our travels. So researchers at Disney and the University of Washington are working on software that can automatically put all of those shots into a perfectly ordered slideshow.
It's relatively easy for you to collate and organise your holiday photos immediately upon your return, because you can remember where you went and what you did from day to day — it's just not a particularly fun task. And the longer you procrastinate, the more you'll forget. But sorting your photos is a herculean task for an algorithm because it has no idea how you spent your time or where on earth your photos were snapped.
To overcome this, the software looks for countless clues hidden in each photo. Facial recognition algorithms allow it to determine who's in a photo, and based on how the faces are lit, figure out which ones were taken around the same time. If you're constantly snapping photos with new people you meet, this can help the software develop a timeline of your travels.
There are also more obvious image recognition tricks that can be used to figure out which images belong together or when they were taken. This includes distinctive objects in the background (like a landmark) the overall colour saturation (was it a sunny day or a cloudy one) and of course just duplicate images, because how often do you just take one photo at a time?
There's no word on when this software could be popping up in applications like Adobe's Lightroom or even Apple's new Photos, but being able to just dump gigs of images onto your computer and leave it to sort them all out sounds amazing. And your friends will be even more thrilled the next time they visit and get to sit through your slideshow of Europe. [Disney Research]