Google can now recognize objects in videos using machine learning

Google can now recognize objects in videos using machine learningFei-Fei Li, chief scientist of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google Cloud, came on stage at Googles Next Cloud conference today to talk about the current and next-generation applications of AI that Googles working on. These technologies will make a difference in self-driving cars and healthcare, sure, but also Snapchats filters and Google Photos search capabilities. But the big highlight came when she announced a new way to allow software to parse video.

This new Video Intelligence API was demoed onstage, and it offered the kind of whoa moment you expect from a Google keynote. By playing a short commercial, the API was able to identify the dachshund in the video, when it appeared in the video, and then understand that the whole thing was a commercial. In another demo, we saw a simple search for beach and was able to find videos which had scenes from beaches in them, complete with timestamps. Thats similar to how Google Photos lets you search for sunset and pull up your best late-day snapshots.

Before now, computers couldnt really understand the content of a video directly without manual tagging. We are beginning to shine light on the dark matter of the digital universe, Li said. At least in Googles demo, it was genuinely impressive. And Google is making the API available to developers, just as it has with its other machine learning APIs.

The demo came near the end of a long keynote about Googles attempt to convince everybody that its a serious player in the cloud services game. To signal its investment in this business, Google brought out the big guns: SVP of Google Cloud Diane Greene spoke, of course, alongside CEO Sundar Pichai and Alphabets executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

The keynote today wasnt exactly a barn burner. Its apparently impossible for anybody to talk about cloud services and machine learning without resorting to vague platitudes. Even if this isnt an event meant for consumers, it was remarkably light on specifics about Googles services. Verizon, HSBC, eBay, Home Depot, Disney, Colgate-Palmolive, and SAP also spoke about their partnerships with Google alternately in glittering generalities and arcane enterprise software acronyms.

The big question is whether Googles splashy attempt to make the case that it can play on equal terms with Amazon and Microsoft will move the needle at all. As The Wall Street Journal notes, Google is significantly behind those two competitors, even though its technology is competitive. Basically, the companies Google needs to woo are all already engaged in longstanding partnerships with another cloud provider. As Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester Research, told the Journal: Theyre not invited to the party enough.

But if Google can find practical applications for whiz-bang features like the Video API demo it showed today, it might find itself allowed into the next soirée.
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