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One of the darlings of the Demo 2006 conference this year was a small start-up company called Riya.com, named after the daughter of founder Munjal Shah. When I visited Munjal's personal website in early 2006, I found literally thousands of family photos. So, I would guess that Riya is his personal answer to organizing those photos, an answer to a problem every family photographer has.
Before the digital age, we stored photo prints in shoe-boxes, maybe organized by year, but that was about us. And now, with digital cameras, we organize by folders, usually by events (disneyland, christmas2005, etc), but it is a tedious an inflexible process. Riya gives us another layer of organization, by the people and text inside each picture.
Riya uses facial recognition technology to tag your photos with the names of each person in the frame, and text recognition to extract the text from the photo, such as a name badge or a sign (Now Entering Virginia).
We believe that Riya.com is the next great thing for digital photography after Picasa from Google, our favorite free software for organizing your image files. Named after Picasso, who was somewhat infamous for his abstract distorted faces, www.Picasa.com is limited to organizing images by folders. Riya adds another layer of tagging and automatically learns facial patterns either from your photos on your hard drive, photos tagged by friends and family members on their hard drives, or even from the paparazzi photos out on the web.
Riya recently received $15 million in venture capital financing and is currently in beta testing. To learn more, visit www.riya.com.