Remember the days of printed photographs? Every holiday, birthday and Christmas we’d click away, producing dozens of photos each time, printing and storing them in shoeboxes tucked away in the attic or the basement. Well, these days you don’t even need to print them, with mobile devices capable of storing thousands of images digitally – backed up and secure (well, mostly!) for the future. The problem is, photographs are perishable – they are prone to wear and tear and can easily be damaged or lost forever.
Since The New York Times was established before the time of digital imagery, they’ve steadily collected over 5 million images which they’ve stored in the basement of its Times Square office, also known as the “morgue”. These one-of-a-kind images, some dating back to the 19th century, have survived thus far, however the popular newspaper has recognised the need to back-up its priceless collection of photos, preserving history using some modern technology.
With the help of Google AI, The New York Times will begin to digitize both the printed photographs and any information they were stored with (newspaper cut-outs, information written on the back such as dates etc) to retain their historical reference. Google will use machine vision to categorise each image using the information it has gathered from any notes linked to each photograph, with the ability to read both printed and hand-written text, also using ‘Google Lens’ technology to recognise objects and landmarks in each image to make them even easier to sort.
Although the images won’t be available to the public once digitized, Google has once again proved the practical uses of AI in helping to preserve our history.
Source: The Verge