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Apple filing suggests searching social networks for automatic metadata

post #1 of 6
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A newly-published patent application reveals Apple's interest in helping users more easily generate metadata for their files through a process that would automatically cull social network streams and the Internet for relevant metadata.

Entitled "Automatic Discovery of Metadata," the filing was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office early Thursday and was discovered by AppleInsider. It describes an automated system to alleviate the "burdensome task" of manually adding metadata.

According to Apple, examples of common metadata tags include the identity of users "generating or editing the data, the content of the data, the location or time at which the data was generated to edited, user-defined tags, or other attributes of the data." Other possible types of metadata include "orientation, time, temperature, or vibration/movement metadata," and data retrieved from the content of the file, such as "color, texture, face detection, image recognition output, and voice recognition metadata."

Apple notes that some forms of metadata are often automatically associated with files when they are generated, while others can be added "at a later time." However, the limitations of a device, such as a lack of GPS functionality, can limit which fields it could automatically populate.

The proposed invention would overcome those limitations by "discovering other data sharing characteristics" of stored data and applying them to a file. In one embodiment, the date and time of a captured image on a device could be checked against events inputted into a calendar app to automatically add event information metadata to the photo.

"In some embodiments, the processing module can identify entries in one or more social networks that relate to the data. For example, the processing module can identify social network streams associated with the user accessing the data, or with friends of the user accessing the data and extract metadata from the social network streams," the filing reads.

Specific examples of possible metadata include people who may have been at the event and the location of the event.

Patent


Apple details an example where the system searches a social networking stream to identify a user in a video. Once identified, the processing module could then "retrieve a social networking handle associated with the identified person from an address book" and review the relevant social streams for that user. The module could then automatically tag people present in the video and add any relevant metadata.

In the filing, Apple further expanded the invention to include additional searches from "remote sources as a whole," such as "some or all of the Internet." One embodiment would entail searching the Web with a color profile from an image in order to identify the location where it was taken. For example, large amounts of orange banners could mean a photo was snapped at Golden Gate Park, while clothing worn by people at an event could help a processing module deduce where and when the event took place.

The filing also suggests a process that would start from the user's data and search a social network of the Internet for "some or all of the data that corresponds to the user's data." Though Apple stops short of mentioning specific use cases and services, the invention could presumably help a device search through a user's friends on a social networking service like Facebook to identify faces in a photo. The filing does mention an example of analyzing audio data from a video to "extract voice prints" that could be compared against a library of voice prints in a device's address book.

Apple filed for the application on February 27, 2012. Michael Ingrassia, Jeffery Lee and Dave Rempel are listed as the inventors.

The patent application could be taken as evidence of Apple's increased interest in social integration. Late last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook promised that Apple would add more social aspects to its products.

"Apple doesn't have to own a social network," he said. "But does Apple have to be social? Yes."

Cook also admitted at the time that Ping, a social music discovery service the company launched in 2010, had not worked out as well as originally planned. He added that the company was looking into whether to "kill" the service. Last week, a report claimed that Apple would ditch Ping this fall with the next iteration of iTunes and iOS 6.
post #2 of 6
I don't see why Apple couldn't have paid FB for Ping integration. That is what held the service back. It was a social network for music that didn't connect to any other social network. Even Twitter and FB play nice... Sadly, a good concept for music and artist discovery was left out in the cold....
post #3 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Mowry View Post

I don't see why Apple couldn't have paid FB for Ping integration. That is what held the service back. It was a social network for music that didn't connect to any other social network. Even Twitter and FB play nice... Sadly, a good concept for music and artist discovery was left out in the cold....

 

They could have. The issue was that Facebook wanted access to user data that Apple wasn't going to give up in keeping with their privacy policy (what we bought etc). 

 

The other issue is that it was never opened up past the major artists. They don't really need the help, the little guys do. But Ping was deemed a failure so Apple never bothered going further on it. If they had done that and improved their metadata for all the stuff in the store things might have worked better. Heck even just opening it up to all artists and the meta data could have improved it without the need to be linked to any outside networks. 

post #4 of 6

Surprised that it's Apple considering stretching the bounds of privacy....

 

"Apple details an example where the system searches a social networking stream to identify a user in a video. Once identified, the processing module could then "retrieve a social networking handle associated with the identified person from an address book" and review the relevant social streams for that user. The module could then automatically tag people present in the video and add any relevant metadata."

 

"The filing does mention an example of analyzing audio data from a video to "extract voice prints" that could be compared against a library of voice prints in a device's address book."

 

Identifying specific people and recognizing where they were and what they were doing by using images and voice patterns, no matter whether that person approves of being identified or not. Tell me that's not the epitomy of Big Brotherish activity.

 

It's things like this that intrude on individual preferences by making use of info from their friends to build a personalized identifiable profile on them no matter their privacy settings. Facebook supposedly does the same, using pictures and posts from friends to bypass a user's privacy settings to opt-out.

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post #5 of 6
Quote:
Identifying specific people and recognizing where they were and what they were doing by using images and voice patterns, no matter whether that person approves of being identified or not. Tell me that's not the epitomy of Big Brotherish activity.

 

Careful, this is not Big Brother.

 

Big Brother is the generation of that metadata and the centralization of access to it for a 3rd party, usually a government organization. Just identifying data for you, i.e. not another consumer of that data, is just handy. So long as that data is not being shared and used without your permission, there should be no problem.

 

Apple so far has tried quite hard to limit personal data sharing and exploits, especially in contrast to others (Google, Facebook, etc.) that make money in the gathering and sharing of your data. Their efficacy in limiting personal data sharing seems to be mixed, but they are trying quite hard against massive pressures.

post #6 of 6
I would think that the biggest barrier to social networking is that it is proprietary. Facebook has a large enough user base that most people will just put up with minor inconveniences such as an abysmal UI, unintentional privacy breaches and "apps" which exist solely to datamine, hijack profiles and spam contacts. Google+ actually has some decent tech but fewer than 10% of people I know use it. If only social networking was an open standard then I could flip zuckerberg the bird and move on. I don't mind walled gardens when they are tended with care, but some of this crap is just downright unethical.
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