Firefox Demo: Facial Detection Within Videos

Earlier this week, we wrote about the tech side of open video efforts, which are poised to push forward the possibilities for use of video by making it native to web browsers.

Here’s a demo we got from Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox, that shows one such possibility. Mozilla evangelist Paul Rouget created an in-video facial detection algorithm using JavaScript that picks up on faces in a video playing within a browser using HTML 5, and notes the color of the shirt below the face. Then, in any other video loaded in the browser with that same facial detection algorithm, that face can be identified as one and the same. Beltzner emphasized that this was put together in just one night.

With the incorporation of actual facial recognition technology, you could see this being quite cool — simple use cases might include security cameras or easy Facebook tagging. Though it’s true that developers have already made many cool things with existing video players like Flash (s ADBE) and Silverlight (s MSFT), the inclusion of video as an element in the coming HTML 5 means that video can be more flexibly manipulated and extended across web sites, without ever downloading a plug-in.

Another Mozilla evangelist, Chris Blizzard, used Rouget’s facial detection demo to show how a person’s latest Twitter update might be overlaid onto a video above their head, once their face has been recognized. For those interested in investigating this further, here’s his longer demo from the Open Video Conference last weekend.

Exclusive: Second Life Starts To Grow Again

They say numbers don’t lie, and in recent months the number of people populating virtual world Second Life has started to rise again. Mark Kingdon, CEO of parent company Linden Lab, has been touting the return to steady user growth; to back up his claims, he shared with us the chart below, which tracks the number of unique repeat logins into Second Life on a month-by-month basis (it doesn’t include new signups during each month.) That number stood at 731,000 as of the end of March, the result of an upward climb that began in August 2008. Read More about Exclusive: Second Life Starts To Grow Again

10 Minutes with Om, a Short Podcast on Netbooks, Android and VoIP

It’s been a while since I had a chance to chat with Om and it’s been even longer since he’s appeared in a video or audio podcast. Sounds like an opportunity to me, so we sat down and recorded a short podcast this weekend. In under 11 minutes, we quickly share thoughts on netbooks, Android and VoIP.

It’s great to see Om returning to non-writing venues and I think he had a good time. So much so, that he’s thinking of pulling in other GigaOM network editors for regular audio chats, which should be a treat. As I mentioned over on GigaOM, this first effort is plain and simple: no intro music and not too long, making it easy to digest. You can listen through the inline player above, or download the 9.9MB file directly here.

Virtual Protest Threatens Linden Lab’s Profitability

The denizens of Linden Lab’s virtual world Second Life are a passionate lot, so when the San Francisco company recently announced a steep purchase and maintenance fee increase on popular regions of their virtual land, sign-waving avatars were soon gathered outside Linden’s SL office, in protest. Some even set themselves on fire.
There have been protests like this throughout the world’s five-year history, but without a competing virtual world offering all the unique features of Second Life, angry customers have largely stayed put, despite their grumblings. Now, however, there is an increasingly viable alternative: OpenSim, an open-source platform for developing virtual worlds, that was, ironically, made possible after Linden Lab released its viewer code. Though still in beta mode, OpenSim has attracted developers with IBM (s IBM), Microsoft (s MSFT), and numerous startups, so it’s bound to rapidly improve. Read More about Virtual Protest Threatens Linden Lab’s Profitability