'Lost in Migration'

Forgotten photos in the cloud   

According to conservative estimates, we now harvest around 2,080 photos per UK adult, per year. We carried out a survey at Pimloc, the results of which suggest the average person takes 40 photos each week, primarily using smartphones and mobile devices.    

With so many selfies (more than 1 billion per year in the UK alone), plus pet snaps and pictures of food, the clear majority (78%) were unable to say exactly how many images and videos they have stored away.  This figure is in the tens of thousands per family household with files stored across computers, mobile devices, removable drives, social networks, and cloud backups.    

94% people have at least once struggled to find pictures or video taken in the past, with 56% calling this a regular problem.     

Physical photo albums are on the decline (just 33% of us now use them), and online cloud storage and local hard drives have taken the place of our desk drawer or bookshelf.  77% of us rely on cloud storage such as Google Photos, yet 53% say they are concerned by privacy breaches when putting their content online.   

Last month, hundreds of iPhone users began tweeting about a largely unknown feature which uses image recognition technology to analyse stored photos.  Whilst the same technology is a feature within Google Photos, many did not realise that their own devices have been quietly tagging and categorising their content for over a year.   

‘Photo album’ is a phrase synonymous with sites like Facebook, and the physical things are rare to come by. It’s clear that people are worried about privacy, yet many continue to store vast amounts of personal content with 3rd party services, with providers who are profiling their collections.    

We are creating more visual content than ever before (and taking multiple bursts of the same moment), but for every automatic upload to the cloud or sub-folder saved on a local hard drive, you could potentially be adding hundreds of files, and the likelihood is that many of these images and videos will sit for years collecting digital dust – in fact many of them will never be seen again.   

A privacy based solution   

In partnership with academics from the University of Oxford, we have condensed the power of cloud based visual search technology to the size of a book. The Pholio smart drive can safely store or simply access your media.  It allows an incredible level of search and discovery across all your photos and home videos, whether online or on a local network.   

Pholio is an in-home private AI box that provides users with powerful tools to explore their own images and videos wherever they are stored. It can be used stand-alone, or connected to your existing storage solutions to open your own collections for discovery.   

The software for Pholio works by automatically checking all images in your ‘album’ against 20,000 inbuilt search terms, from ‘birthday’ to ‘license plate’ and ‘house renovation’.  By keying a relevant search term into a browser on a connected TV screen, tablet, phone or laptop at home, families can search for all sorts of things in their own photo collections – from day trips to Bangor to bungie jumps in Niagara. For businesses with large collections we have developed a range of deep learning technologies and discovery tools that can be deployed into their own environments.   

The 20,000 custom search terms that we have already built into Pholio can still be used if the device is run offline. If the box is connected to the Internet, owners can search for anything, teaching it personalised terms including names of friends and family.      

Depending on your requirements Pholio can either make a full resolution copy of your original collections on the box or you can select to just store a Pholio optimised format of each photo and video to reduce your overall storage capacity needs. If you already have ample photo and video storage in place then the optimised format option will a create a smaller version of each image and video (3-4MB per image and a 720p video) to keep locally on the box - Pholio will still provide a link through to each original file if you need to quickly find them. 

With many of us owning a myriad of devices, from tablets to phones to digital cameras, Pholio is a perfect way of condensing and exploring important family archives.  The basic Pholio device will manage collections of up to 140,000 images, the equivalent of 875 standard photo albums.   

Visual search beyond the home   

We have been working with a range of British museums who have very large image and video archives – these historical treasure chests have also remained locked in their constrained folder structures for many years. Pholio is now opening these to the world, and rather than needing to know specialist information (artist, year or scientific names), everyone can now freely explore these collections based on the things they're interested in and how they want to search.   

Pimloc is making available the worlds image and video collections for enjoyment, discovery and learning. Most historic collections are being held captive by their traditional filing structure of creator & date, and this can restrict access to the privileged few. We have developed a range of deep learning tools that allow anyone to explore large impenetrable collections in a very quick and simple way. We are making it possible to search back in time and around the globe with the tap of a finger.   

We are now taking pre-orders for Pholio, with first deliveries in time for Christmas.  The device, with built-in search capabilities, is available from £299.

With the growing volume of data coming from imaging and connected devices in the home, there is a critical need for local processing and control.  This will save cloud streaming costs, increase response speeds, and provide choices that don't require handing over control of your data.  Pholio is step 1 in our drive to bring data control and ownership back into the home, through harnessing developments in deep learning technology that everyone can make use of.   

Simon Randall, CEO at Pimloc 

Image Credit: Pimloc