AI-driven visual recognition can transform industries… and the web

©Sergey Nivens

Pioneers of new industry sector Viztech are taking the neural network technology behind iPhone X’s facial recognition system to a whole new level to deliver a range of applications including video detection to solve the growing crisis in online extremist content and more. David Fulton of WeSee explains…

Imagine the Internet without Google? Trying to find anything would be unbelieva-bly painful – not to mention time-consuming. Well, that’s the situation right now with video.

Why should we care? Well, by 2020, Cisco forecasts that there will be 65 trillion im-ages and 6 trillion videos uploaded to the web. This will result in over 80% of all in-ternet traffic being image or video-based in two years.

Search engines like Google rely on human-tagged meta-data to carry out their searches. These tags are written and added when text-based content is created. With more video content currently being uploaded in 30 days than the major US television networks have created in 30 years, it would currently take over 100,000 years to watch it all. More specifically, it would take over one million years to tag it by hand in the way we tag meta-data today. This essentially makes this rapidly growing body of image and video content on the internet impossible to detect and categorise using current techniques.

This inability to find, track and filter video content automatically is causing increas-ing problems, no more so than in the area of policing dangerous and inappropri-ate visual material. This includes the videos produced and uploaded by terrorist groups, something which UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently called on Internet giants – including Facebook, YouTube and Microsoft – to come up with a way to detect and remove within two hours or face huge fines. We are seeing this senti-ment backed by lawmakers in Germany who have recently approved a bill that potentially gives prison sentences for certain “evidently illegal” content.

The inability to spot this kind of content is also hitting business, damaging reputa-tions. Brands are increasingly finding their advertisements running alongside inap-propriate visual material, creating guilt by association, and giving rise to the ‘brand safety’ crisis. This is even affecting the big internet players like Facebook and YouTube – along with publishers in general – who are scrambling around desper-ately trying to find a solution. With advertisers’ trust in their platforms gradually dissi-pating, a vital revenue stream worth a billion dollars is at risk.

The answer lies in the new field of Viztech, a fledgling sector that could have rami-fications far beyond internet extremism and brand safety. Viztech pioneers are de-veloping powerful artificial intelligence-based technology that can be trained to spot inappropriate or specific content, such as an ISIS flag or face of a known hate-preacher. It’s powerful technology that can detect and categorise video, as well as still images, quickly and efficiently, processing information just like the hu-man brain, but up to 1,000 times faster… and counting!

It’s driven by deep learning and neural networks, similar to the technology behind the iPhone X’s facial recognition system but more sophisticated, and like Apple it promises to take advanced AI to the masses. It doesn’t just see visual content, it understands every multi-layered element within images and videos in the same way us humans do. It allows organisations to automatically ascertain and harness the huge opportunities and value hidden inside all digital images and videos.

Even at this early stage, technology within Viztech has the power to transform in-dustries. Take broadcasting as an example, where it could enable a proper video search engine and, more importantly, quickly and easily categorise and tag video content on-the-fly. Something that historically took days to be done manually can now be done automatically in seconds.

Media data science company Genistat used the technology during this year’s Eu-ropean Open Golf Tournament to detect leading golfers and sponsor logos quickly and accurately across hours of footage, significantly speeding up the creation of highlight clips. It also allows broadcasters to know the specific adjacent video con-tent for all ads. From an advertising and revenue generation perspective, this is transformative.

It goes without saying that it could also power the world’s most advanced adult and violent digital content filter, creating a more child and brand-friendly web, and putting a smile on the face of the Theresa May and the digital publishers that lawmakers and advertisers are collectively putting pressure on.

Meanwhile, looking further into our near future, the Viztech sector will soon be un-leashing an application of the technology that reveals whether people are lying or being truthful through facial recognition; something that could revolutionise the in-surance industry by curbing claims fraud, and also potentially aid law enforce-ment.

So, perhaps the future envisaged by MINORITY REPORT is closer than we think. Thanks to the Viztech pioneers, it’s now possible to be predictive rather than reac-tionary – filtering, identifying and categorising video content before it even ap-pears online. Ultimately, the connection between human intuition and understand-ing the multi-layers of visual content, together with the processing speed of AI, merely scratches the surface of the revolutionary possibilities within Viztech.

David Fulton is CEO of WeSee. Find out more at

Tags : AI