London, UK—A London-based start-up has developed a photo album, called Pholio, that indexes itself and hunts through its collection in an instant. No Internet connection is required. Pholio manages family photo and video collections with what the company claims is“better search and privacy than Facebook, Google, Instagram and Flickr combined.”
“Pholio can search through the tens of thousands images that families have in their collections. It can find family celebrity lookalikes, doppelgängers, scan your old photos for UFOs, settle arguments about who appears in most family photos and bring an end to debates about whether the children are the spitting image of their great grandparents,” Pimloc Ltd., Pholio’s developer, announced.
A team of British inventors, led by founder Simon Randall, tested the device’s potential on one of London’s largest collections of art—the image library at the Courtauld Institute at Somerset House. The Courtauld is home to countless works by world famous artists going back centuries.
Using his own photograph, Randall checked the huge collection and in seconds retrieved the below image of a possible ancestor.
“When the image turned up I knew that we had an amazing product. One of the great urban myths is that Nicholas Cage is a vampire, based on a ghostly old image accidentally uncovered in an old archive. Since I found my lookalike, my wife has taken to sleeping with the bedside light on,” Randall said.
The photo album device gives families the opportunity to search their own collections for lookalikes. The device hunts down an owner’s photo and video collections from online services and computer hard drives and automatically indexes them for search and discovery. Users can also train it to recognize unique search terms. Moreover, Pholio brings all images back to the device.
Pholio also searches for images in videos. A test on the classic sci-fi movie The Terminator retrieved an image of a lizard almost instantly. Randall noted: “I am a Schwarzenegger fan, but I had no memory of a lizard in the movie. There is a split-second scene early in the film with a pet lizard placed on the top of some shelves, and Pholio found it in moments.”
The artificial intelligence built into Pholio was developed in partnership with leading scientists from the University of Oxford. It has also been tested on the very large and specialist collections of several British museums, galleries and commercial libraries. The basic device is engineered to manage collections of up to 140,000 images.
“We set up Pholio after I realized I simply couldn’t keep track of all the family photos I have. I have lived on both sides of the digital divide and can remember when photos were taken on film,” said Randall. “There were far fewer of them, and it was much easier to recall what you had stored. These days we set up collections all over the web and it is easy to lose touch with our memories. With Pholio, if you are looking for that photograph of Auntie Thelma in a giraffe costume on a seaside boardwalk, you can find it in a second.”
Key Pholio Features
The Pholio device is shaped like a traditional photo album. It automatically retrieves all personal images and home videos loaded to file-sharing sites such as Facebook, Google and Flickr. It also searches local storage on NAS drives, hard drives and memory cards. Pholio will pick up the majority of popular image and video formats. This includes RAW files, which it can thumbnail and store directly in an optimized format.
The software in Pholio automatically checks all images in the ‘album’ against 20,000 built-in search terms. For example, users can search from birthday to license plate or house renovation. By keying a relevant search term into a browser on a connected TV screen, tablet, phone or laptop, families can search for all sorts of things in their photo collections. Pholio will identify the existing image metadata so users can run combined searches on date/time, GPS location and image content. For instance, they can search for “my daughter on the beach, 2012.”
In addition, users can teach Pholio to recognize new items by naming people, objects and scenes within their collections. Pholio will evolve with the owner’s collections. It will learn to recognize the specific objects, people and scenes that each individual wants to see, added Randall. Moreover, if the box is connected to the Internet, owners can search for anything.
Pholio is taking preorders for the device via Kickstarter, with first deliveries expected to be in time for Christmas. The Pholio device, with built-in search and discovery capabilities, is available in two versions (500GB or 2TB) starting at $400. https://www.pholio.io