The invitation email was pretty lengthy and here are some things that caught my eye...
Riya.com isn't just about face recognition. It is about search. It is about rethinking photosearch so that we are searching inside your photos, not around them.
The Riya uploader is PC only right now. Darn it, we know. If you are on a Mac and you can find a friend with a PC, you can upload there, then train, tag and search your photos on your Mac.
Speaking of the uploader, it is recommended that you run large sets overnight or while you are away from your PC for a length of time as it utilizes some processor memory and power. Sorry. Heh. Considering that it uploads an average of 4,000 photos in 24 hours, it's not too bad. There is still room for improvement, but it's faster than most uploaders you'll encounter.
Bloggers are encouraged to post the good, bad and the ugly. (this is where i come in :p)
For those who wanna try it out, the link for the beta is http://www.riya.com/groundTruth
After signing up u need to download a photo uploader that basically processes each photo and then uploads it to the server. As mentioned above this client is painfully slow. It could take hours to upload a few hundred photos. The website even suggests you to keep large uploads running the whole night! (The installation screen for the uploader clearly mentions that the beta version can be expected to be buggy, slow and unstable.)
Once you upload the photos, Riya finds the faces in each photo. We can now tag these faces with the name of the person. After a few such uploads, Riya starts to show its real prowess :). It starts guessing the names of people in any photo you upload. And damn, its right 90% of the time! (thats a very rough estimate btw :p)
Other features include the ability to recognize text on the photo. The pictures have a responsive AJAX-like feel to them. You can hover over a face, for example, and the name of the person pops up.
Once Riya learns how to identify a person, you can search for that person either in the entire public photo database or within your private collection. Riya comes up all the photos from its collection that have that person's face in it.
Well, am I satisfied???
To tell you the truth, I expected something slightly different. For starters, I would have preferred an online uploader that leaves all the processing job to the Riya servers :P..
Secondly, I would have liked it if I were able to do an Internet Image Search (like the Google Image Search) for all photos with my face, instead of just searching the Riya database. I know that would mean crawling through the net and painfully processing all the photos there (a task thats possibly impossible).. but yea, that would be awesome :)
I've heard rumors about Google's plans to buy Riya.. but I dont know how true they are.. If they were true, then we could definitely look forward to a new dimension to online image searching :)