How old do you really look? Microsoft’s how-old.net can tell you

1 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Find out how old Microsoft thinks you are.

If you think you look young for you age, you may want to double-check that with Microsoft’s new how-old.net , which uses the power of its Azure services to analyze your face. It’s an exercise in machine learning that caught on — Microsoft developers expected only about 50 people to test it, instead, the website has been used by more than 35,000 people. They were “playing around” with new face detection software and decided to ask a couple hundred people to try it out and tell them what they thought. We tested it using staff photos and found that a different photo of the same person, taken within the same year, could yield a different age, possibly due to lighting or facial expression. Microsoft has a new facial-recognition demo that’s supposed to show off just how good the company is at guessing your age based on a photo. “It’s a really fun API that allows you to submit pictures, detect faces in that, and tells you an estimate of their age and gender,” corporate vice president Joseph Sirosh said at Microsoft’s Build conference today.

We also tried celebrities—though one can’t always guess how old they are, whether because of work done or because it’s someone like Abe Vigoda, who many believe has looked 77 since he was a baby. But it’s quickly gone viral, to Microsoft’s surprise. “This is a fun story of how we were expecting perhaps 50 users for a test but — in the end — got over 35,000 users and saw the whole thing unfold in real time,” wrote Corom Thompson and Santosh Balasubramanian, two Microsoft engineers.

Using existing Microsoft APIs, or application program interfaces, the engineers combined a program that detects information about faces in a photograph with tools that embed search results and location data. Since the site’s launch, Twitter has been full of opinions, with some users calling it a massive “ego-killer” while others praised it as “the greatest tool ever.” Mixed opinions aside, this might be the most buzz Microsoft has garnered in a while. If you’re thinking random people from stock images … that’s what the researchers thought, too! “We assumed that folks would not want to upload their own pictures but would prefer to select from pre-canned images such as what they found online,” the researchers wrote in a blog post. “But what we found out was that over half the pictures analyzed were of people who had uploaded their own images.” Part of the reason the tool seems to have spread so far is that it’s not very accurate.

However, anyone who’s trying to decide which photo to put up on on their profile page, be it LinkedIn, Twitter or Tinder, and doesn’t trust the judgement of their friends could run the pic through this site to make sure they’re putting their best age forward. Eat your heart out, Benjamin Button. “We sent email to a group of several hundred people asking them to try the page for a few minutes and give us feedback – optimistically hoping that at least 50 people would give it a shot.

According to the company, roughly 35,000 users used the age-guessing application within just a few hours of Microsoft’s (extraordinarily) soft promotion of it. We suspect that number is much, much higher today—and will likely drop off just as quickly, once the novelty of Microsoft’s semi-accurate guessing wears off And if you really want to get crazy, try uploading pictures of your pets.

But the search giant can also take over your TV with the Google Chromecast , a streaming dongle that tops Amazon’s own Fire TV Stick on the company’s list of best-selling electronic devices. Part of its appeal lies in its pure portability, but there’s also the price: just $35 to wirelessly stream Netflix, Spotify, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV. Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O last year—from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing.

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