Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hipster, surfer or biker? Computers may soon be able to tell the difference

Researchers develop algorithm that uses computer vision to identify social groups

Are you a hipster, surfer or biker? What is your urban tribe? Your computer may soon be able to tell. Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego, are developing an algorithm that uses group pictures to determine to which of these groups, or urban tribes, you belong. So far, the algorithm is 48 percent accurate on average. That’s better than chance--which gets answers right only nine percent of the time--but researchers would like the algorithm perform at least as well as humans would.

An algorithm able to identify people’s urban tribes would have a wide range of applications, from generating more relevant search results and ads, to allowing social networks to provide better recommendations and content. There also is a growing interest in analyzing footage from cameras installed in public spaces to identify groups rather than individuals.

Computer scientists presented their findings at the British Machine Vision Conference in the United Kingdom this fall.

“This is a first step,” said Serge Belongie, a computer science professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author of the study. “We are scratching the surface to figure out what the signals are.”

This is an extremely difficult problem, Belongie explained, and a 48 percent accuracy rate is actually a very good result. One of the researchers’ insights was to look at group pictures rather than pictures of individuals. They hoped that this would make it easier to pick up social cues, such as clothing and hairdos, to determine people’s tribes based on visuals featuring more than one person.

While humans can recognize urban tribes at a glance, computers cannot. So the algorithm segments each person in six sections—face, head, top of the head (where a hat would be), neck, torso and arms. This method is an example of what’s better known as a “parts and attributes” approach. Computer scientists designed the algorithm to analyze the picture as the sum of its parts and attributes—in this case haircuts, hair color, make up, jewelry and tattoos, for example. The algorithm also analyzes the boxes for color, texture and other factors.

Researchers then let data do the work, feeding the algorithm pictures labeled for the urban tribes they represent—hipsters, surfers, bikers, Goth, etc.—a common machine learning technique. Finally, they fed the algorithm pictures without labels. The computer vision program accurately determined to which urban tribe the pictures belonged 48 percent of the time—better than random. The researcher’s next step is to run the same set of pictures by human users and see how they perform.

In addition, the UC San Diego researchers are working with Lubomir Bourdev, a fomer Ph.D. computer science student at UC Berkeley, and Peter Belhumeur from the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University to improve the analysis of facial features and other attributes within the system.

To define urban tribes in the study, computer scientists turned to Wikipedia and selected the eight most popular categories in the encyclopedia’s list of subcultures: biker, country, Goth, heavy metal, hip hop, hipster, raver and surfer. They also included photographs from three common categories for social venues: formal events, dance clubs and casual pubs.

A by-product of their research was the development of an extensive dataset of urban tribe pictures, including hundreds of images, which they plan to make available to other research groups.

In addition to Belongie and Belhumeur, other co-authors on the paper are Ph.D. student Iljung Sam Kwak and Professor David Kriegman, both in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego, and Ana C. Murillo, from the University of Zaragoza in Spain and currently a visiting scholar at UC San Diego.

Media Contacts
Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-822-0899

Ioana Patringenaru | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Computer Vision Ferchau Engineering Hipster algorithm computer science

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Next Generation Cryptography
20.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Sichere Informationstechnologie SIT

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>