06 May 2009


Automatic face recognition from photos, mapping of photo location, intelligent automatic filing based on location or portrayed person. You can find all this, and more, on the new iPhoto ’09 for Mac.

Is this a misplaced ad to encourage PC users to choose Macs? Probably yes... but not only.

To a cetacean researcher, the features of this new photo management tool immediately look appealing as they suggest that the very same could be done based on dorsal fins, flukes, and perhaps even some pigmentation patterns. The technology certainly exists, and what is probably missing is a convenient market, cetacean researchers being a relatively small community of potential users.

But imagine if you could have a GPS built in your digital camera (a feature that will probably become standard very soon). You go out to sea and just photograph dolphins and other things. Then you get back to the field station, download the stuff into your computer (wireless, of course) and everything gets nicely catalogued by dorsal fin (please just confirm that this one really is ‘BrokenTip’), by survey, and by location.

A map of your movements is automatically created based on the photos taken during your survey (please just take a photo of the port before leaving it, and another one every time the route or the sea state change).

Animals observed at sea are similarly catalogued by species and by survey (if you can’t manage to actually photograph an animal, please just take a photo of a portable catalogue of animal icons).

Researcher’s life made easy, it seems.

Just have a look at the iPhoto guided tour. Add a bit of imagination, and dream on!

Giovanni Bearzi


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