Viewers of 24 have seen Chloe O’Brian cut and paste an image from a surveillance camera into facial recognition software and within moments, the suspect is identified. I have always viewed this with a certain degree of skepticism, but I shall no longer do so.

This week I received an update to Apple’s photo management, iPhoto 09, and one of the new features is something called “Faces”. The way this works is rather unique, when you start it for the first time, it processes all of your photos looking for and remembering the faces that it finds. Once this is complete, you select a few photos of people and associate them with a name, then the applicaton will go off and match other photos of the person you just identified.

How well does this work, amazingly well. I have some group photos of sports teams, and the program correctly identified the individuals in these photos. What is also impressive that photos of children taken over the span of five years, elementary school age to teen, were correctly identified as the same individual. Amazing stuff. Internet buzz is that it also works with cats..

If a consumer product can do this, what can facial recognition technology do on a more powerful computer than what I have here on my desktop ?

Chloe, I shall never doubt you again. As a matter of fact, I’m a little concerned..