Riya and my personal thoughts

June 18, 2006

The other day while browsing through a friend's blog i happened to stumble upon Riya. Riya is an online photo organizer, where you can upload your photo's and share them with the world. But there are so many in the world that do the same thing, so whats special about Riya ? Well there is one area of categorization where Riya excels among it's competitor's. That's photo recognition and searching/categorizing your photo's based on who is there in your photo.

I myself had this idea about categorizing photo's based on the person in the photo. With thousand's of photo's in my laptop, i always had difficulty looking out for specific photo. For example i wanted to see all the photo's of Ishita when we had gone to the mysore trip. First of all i had to organize all my photo's in a folder, and then go one by one to see where is ishita's photo. That's when i thought about indexing photo's based on the people present in the photo. I did not think of face recognition, but i was thinking more on the lines of tagging the photo based on the people present in the photo. Again tagging is also widely used. But i don't know why tagging is not built into the images themselves. With the EXIF format, it is possibly to insert any meta data in the photo. It's like your MP3 collection. You have meta information about artist/album/genre etc.. Then you can use your music playing application (iTunes for example) and easily search for your music based on your criteria (artist/album/genre). Simillary with each image if we can insert the meta information about the people in the photo, the place where the photo was clicked, date and time (if it is not present), the occasion. It will be so easy to categorize the photo's.

The reason for storing these meta information in the images itself is so that the information resides totally with the image and you can use any third party application that you like to categorize them according to your tastes. But apparently there will be an iTunes like application which will become the defacto application :).

About Riya itself, i personally liked the website quite a lot. The people behind Riya seems quite a passionate lot of people, working day in and day out to get this cool application out. Munjal Shah, CEO of Riya himself maintains a decent blog of Riya's activities which is an interesting read. But as he mention's himself, Riya is two year old baby. Riya has got an amazing technology at hand, but somehow the delivery has not really been upto the mark. I personally find Flickr's interface much more better. Riya is not as restrictive as Flickr (non-pro) is, but still i think it will take Riya some time to reach that level.

Riya themselves realize this shortcoming and they are trying to fix this. The other day i happened to saw Munjal's blog holding an informal competition to redesign the web site. Or atleast the structure of the website. Now personally i am not sure how good is this idea of asking someone to redesign the website. Designing a website would require lot of brainstorming between the designer and people at Riya, ideas thrown back and forth until something good comes out. How can you collect some hundred different design's and chose the best out of them ? Anyway it will be interesting to watch what Munjal's competition yield's. Now i am not an expert on web technologies or how exactly these competition work's. But i have personal reservation against such methods.

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