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Publication numberUS20100198940 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/722,612
Publication dateAug 5, 2010
Filing dateMar 12, 2010
Priority dateNov 1, 2004
Also published asUS7707239, US20060095540, WO2006049887A2, WO2006049887A3
Publication number12722612, 722612, US 2010/0198940 A1, US 2010/198940 A1, US 20100198940 A1, US 20100198940A1, US 2010198940 A1, US 2010198940A1, US-A1-20100198940, US-A1-2010198940, US2010/0198940A1, US2010/198940A1, US20100198940 A1, US20100198940A1, US2010198940 A1, US2010198940A1
InventorsEric C. Anderson, Robert P. Morris
Original AssigneeAnderson Eric C, Morris Robert P
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Using Local Networks For Location Information And Image Tagging
US 20100198940 A1
Abstract
The present invention provides a method for establishing a location for a digital image without the use of a GPS unit. Aspects of the invention include broadcasting over a network a location identifier (ID) identifying a location of the network; detecting the location ID by a digital image capture device coupled to the network; and in response to the image capture device capturing a digital image when in communication with the network, associating the location ID with the digital image.
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Claims(30)
1. A method for tagging digital images in a system having a network-based service maintaining a database of one or more wireless networks, the network IDs associated with the one or more wireless networks, location tags each describing a location of one of the one or more wireless networks, and a plurality of reference images, each reference image stored in association with a description tag indicating the content of the reference image and at least one corresponding network identifier (ID) of a wireless network from one or more wireless networks detected when the reference image was captured, the network ID identifying at least a portion of the wireless network from the one or more wireless networks without using global positioning system coordinates, the method comprising:
transmitting at least one digital image and at least one network ID of at least one of the one or more wireless networks associated with the at least one digital image to the network-based service;
for each of the at least one digital image:
receiving a corresponding description tag of a matching reference image from the network-based service, thereby automatically indicating a specific content of the at least one digital image if the network-based service finds a matching reference image among reference images associated with a same network ID as the at least one network ID and associating the corresponding description tag with the at least one digital image;
receiving a corresponding location tag, thereby automatically indicating a general capture location of the at least one digital image if the network-based service does not find a matching reference image among reference images associated with a same network ID as the at least one network ID and associating the corresponding location tag with the at least one digital image, the corresponding location tag including a text description of the location of the network portion,
wherein at least one of the preceding actions is performed on at least one electronic hardware component.
2. The method of claim 1 further comprising:
detecting, by a digital image capture device at least one network ID broadcast over at least one of one or more wireless networks;
associating the at least one network ID with the at least one digital image in response to the digital image capture device capturing the at least one digital image while in range of the at least one network ID.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein the digital image capture device associates the at least one network ID with the at least one digital image in response to the digital image capture device capturing the at least one digital image while in range of the at least one network ID using a tagging application.
4. The method of claim 2 wherein the digital image capture device comprises a wireless mobile device.
5. The method of claim 1 wherein the location tag comprises one of a text tag, an audio tag, and a text and audio tag.
6. The method of claim 1 further comprising displaying each of the at least one digital image and one of the corresponding location tag and the corresponding description tag associated with the at least one digital image.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein associating the corresponding location tag with the at least one digital image comprises storing the corresponding location tag as image metadata.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein associating the corresponding description tag with the at least one digital image comprises storing the corresponding description tag as image metadata.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein the corresponding description tag includes information in the corresponding location tag.
10. The method of claim 1 further comprising:
prompting a user to enter a description of the at least one digital image if a corresponding description tag is not received; and
transmitting the description to the network-based service.
11. A system for tagging digital images using one or more wireless networks that broadcast network identifiers (IDs) that are detectable through a wireless protocol and a network-based service that maintains a database of the wireless networks, the network IDs, a location tag of each wireless network describing a location of the corresponding wireless network, and a plurality of reference images, each reference image having an association with at least one corresponding network ID of at least one wireless network from the one or more wireless networks that was detected when the reference image was captured and a description tag indicating the content of the image, the system comprising:
a tagging component configured to transmit at least one captured digital image and at least one network ID associated with the at least one captured digital image to the network-based service for retrieval of at least one corresponding tag for the at least one captured digital image and for each of the at least one captured digital image:
receive a corresponding description tag of a matching reference image from the network-based service and associate the corresponding description tag with the at least one captured digital image if the network-based service finds a matching reference image among reference images associated with at least one same network ID as the at least one network ID and associate the corresponding description tag with the at least one captured digital image; and
receive a corresponding location tag from the network-based service and associate the corresponding location tag with the at least one captured digital image if the network-based service does not find a matching reference image and associate the corresponding location tag with the at least one captured digital image; and
display means for displaying each of the at least one captured digital image and one of the corresponding location tag and the corresponding description tag for each of the at least one captured digital image, wherein at least one of the system components includes at least one electronic hardware component.
12. The system of claim 11 further comprising a digital image capture device configured to: capture digital images and for each of the at least one captured digital image: associate the at least one captured digital image with at least one network ID detected at the time of image capture.
13. The system of claim 12 wherein the digital image capture device associates the at least one network ID with the at least one digital image in response to the digital image capture device capturing the at least one digital image while in range of the at least one network ID using a tagging application.
14. The system of claim 12 wherein the digital image capture device comprises a wireless mobile device.
15. The system of claim 11 wherein the location tag comprises one of a text tag, an audio tag, and a text and audio tag.
16. The system of claim 11 wherein associating the corresponding location tag with the at least one digital image comprises storing the corresponding location tag as image metadata.
17. The system of claim 11 wherein associating the corresponding description tag with the at least one digital image comprises storing the corresponding description tag as image metadata.
18. The system of claim 11 wherein the corresponding description tag includes information in the corresponding location tag.
19. The system of claim 11 wherein the tagging application is further configured to:
prompt a user to enter a description of the at least one digital image if a corresponding description tag is not received; and
transmit the description to the network-based service.
20. A method of providing tag information for digital images in a system using one or more wireless networks that broadcast network identifiers (IDs) that are detectable through a wireless protocol, the method comprising:
maintaining a database of the one or more wireless networks, the network IDs associated with the one or more wireless networks, location tags each describing a location of one of the one or more wireless networks, and a plurality of reference images, each reference image associated with at least one network ID of at least one wireless network from one or more wireless networks detected when the reference image was captured and a description tag describing contents of each respective reference image, wherein each network ID does not utilize global positioning system coordinates;
receiving at least one image, each of the at least one image having at least one associated network ID detected when the at least one image was captured;
for each of the at least one image:
comparing the at least one image with relevant reference images associated with a same network ID as the at least one associated network ID;
if a matching reference image is found:
retrieving a corresponding description tag of any matching reference image from the database;
providing the corresponding description tag to a requesting application, thereby automatically indicating a specific content of the received image; and
if a matching reference image is not found:
retrieving a corresponding location tag from the database corresponding to the wireless network with which the at least one associated network ID is associated; and
providing the corresponding location tag to the requesting application, thereby automatically indicating a general capture location of the at least one image,
wherein at least one of the preceding actions is performed on at least one electronic hardware component.
21. The method of claim 20 wherein the requesting application comprises a tagging application.
22. The method of claim 20 further comprising:
receiving a description of the at least one digital image if a matching reference image was not found;
storing the at least one digital image as a reference image;
storing information from the description as a description tag associated with the at least one digital image; and
storing the at least one associated network ID in association with the at least one digital image.
23. A system for providing tag information for digital images, the system using one or more wireless networks that broadcast network identifiers (IDs) that are detectable through a wireless protocol, the system comprising system components including:
a network-based service component that maintains a database of the one or more wireless networks, the network IDs associated with the one or more wireless networks, location tags each describing a location of one of the one or more wireless networks, and a plurality of reference images, each reference image associated with at least one network ID of at least one wireless network from one or more wireless networks detected when the reference image was captured and a description tag describing contents of each respective reference image, wherein each network ID does not utilize global positioning system coordinates, the network-based service configured to receive images, each received image having at least one associated network ID detected when the received image was captured;
an image recognition component accessible to the network-based service configured to:
compare a received image with relevant reference images associated with a same network ID as the at least one associated network ID; and
retrieve the description tags of any matching reference images; and
for each received image:
if a matching reference image is found, the network-based service returns a corresponding description tag to a requesting application, thereby automatically indicating a specific content of the received image; and
if a matching reference image is not found, the network-based service returns a corresponding location tag, thereby automatically indicating a general capture location of the received image,
wherein at least one of the system components includes at least one electronic hardware component.
24. The system of claim 23 wherein the requesting application comprises a tagging application.
25. The system of claim 23 wherein the network-based service component is further configured to:
receive a description of the at least one digital image if a matching reference image was not found;
store the at least one digital image as a reference image;
store information from the description as a description tag associated with the at least one digital image; and
store the at least one associated network ID in association with the at least one digital image.
26. A computer-readable medium containing program instructions for tagging a digital image in a system having a network-based service maintaining a database of one or more wireless networks, the network IDs associated with the one or more wireless networks, location tags each describing a location of one of the one or more wireless networks, and a plurality of reference images, each reference image stored in association with a description tag indicating the content of the reference image and at least one corresponding network identifier (ID) of a wireless network from the one or more wireless networks detected when the reference image was captured, the network ID identifying at least a portion of the wireless network from the one or more wireless networks without using global positioning system coordinates, the program instructions for:
transmitting at least one digital image and at least one network ID of at least one of the one or more wireless networks associated with the at least one digital image to the network-based service;
for each of the at least one digital image:
receiving a corresponding description tag of a matching reference image from the network-based service, thereby automatically indicating a specific content of the digital image if the network-based service finds a matching reference image among reference images associated with a same network ID as the at least one network ID and associating the corresponding description tag with the digital image; and
receiving a corresponding location tag, thereby automatically indicating a general capture location of the digital image if the network-based service does not find a matching reference image among reference images associated with a same network ID as the at least one network ID and associating the corresponding location tag with the digital image, the corresponding location tag including a text description of the location of the network portion.
27. The computer-readable medium of claim 26 having further program instructions for:
detecting at least one network ID broadcast over the at least one of the one or more wireless networks; and
associating the at least one network ID with the at least one digital image in response to a digital image capture device capturing at least one digital image while in range of the at least one network ID.
28. The computer-readable medium of claim 26 having further program instructions for displaying the at least one digital image and one of the corresponding location tag and the corresponding description tag.
29. A computer-readable medium containing program instructions for tag information for digital images in a system using one or more wireless networks that broadcast network identifiers (IDs) that are detectable through a wireless protocol, the program instructions for:
maintaining a database of the one or more wireless networks, the network IDs associated with the one or more wireless networks, location tags each describing a location of one of the one or more wireless networks, and a plurality of reference images, each reference image associated with at least one network ID of at least one wireless network from one or more wireless networks detected when the reference image was captured and a description tag describing contents of each respective reference image, wherein each network ID does not utilize global positioning system coordinates;
receiving at least one image, each of the at least one image having at least one associated network ID detected when the at least one image was captured;
for each of the at least one image:
comparing the at least one image with relevant reference images associated with a same network ID as the at least one associated network ID;
if a matching reference image is found:
retrieving a corresponding description tag of any matching reference image from the database;
providing the corresponding description tag to a requesting application, thereby automatically indicating a specific content of the received image; and
if a matching reference image is not found:
retrieving a corresponding location tag from the database corresponding to the wireless network with which the at least one associated network ID is associated; and
providing the corresponding location tag to the requesting application, thereby automatically indicating a general capture location of the at least one image.
30. The computer-readable medium of claim 29 having further program instructions for:
receiving a description of the at least one digital image if a matching reference image was not found;
storing the at least one digital image as a reference image;
storing information from the description as a description tag associated with the at least one digital image; and
storing the at least one associated network ID in association with the at least one digital image.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/978,491 filed on Nov. 1, 2004, titled “Using Local Networks for Location Information and Image Tagging” (now U.S. Pat. No. ______, issued ______), which is commonly owned with this application and is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to location services for digital images, and more particularly to a method and system for using local area networks for location information and image tagging.

Currently, in order to provide location services for a digital camera for the purpose of automating location tag creation for images, the camera must have some location sensors, such as a GPS receiver or cell phone with location detection. A central database can then review the image to determine what tags should be attached at a later time (the GPS or other location codes are stored in the image as tags for retrieval later).

An example of such a system available is the Caplio Pro G3 digital camera by Ricoh that is capable of automatic image geo-coding. A CompactFlash WAAS GPS card plugs into a slot in the camera and captures location data as the user takes pictures and stores the data in the images. Alternatively, a Bluetooth adapter allows the camera to communicate with a Bluetooth GPS unit for capturing the location data. The camera comes equipped with a desktop application called “GPS-Photo Link.” Once the geo-coded images are downloaded to the user's desktop, the GPS-Photo Link application creates GPS watermarks for the images. The user may also insert a CompactFlash WiFi 802.11b card into the camera for wireless communication for the purpose of downloading the images from the camera to a PC or PDA via FTP or e-mail.

Another example of a system that associates digital images with a photographer's location is a GPS equipped PDA called coyotEYE by Lupine Logic, Inc. of Missoula, Mont. The CoyotEYE product includes an iPAQ PDA by HP of Palo Alto, Calif., add-on hardware by Nexian, Inc. (theNexiCAM and NexiGPS hardware), and a choice of SyBASE iAnywhere or MS Access database engine.

Although integrating a GPS unit into the camera eliminates the need for the user to carry a separate GPS unit, the use of GPS units with handheld digital image capture devices has several disadvantages, which includes being bulky, expensive, and energy inefficient. For example, FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating the Ricoh camera 500 with an attached GPS CompactFlash card 502. Also shown is an example image 504 watermarked with the GPS data. As shown, the GPS CompactFlash card 502 inserted into the Ricoh camera 500 extends well outside of the camera housing, which is unwieldy to use. Similarly, the GPS antenna of the coyotEYE PDA extends well past the PDA housing. In addition, the Ricoh camera/GPS/software bundle lists for $1199, with the GPS card 502 contributing $160, and the coyotEYE PDA lists for $849.99. It is unclear how many users, other than hard-core enthusiast, will be willing to pay such a premium to have their images stamped with location data.

In the future, it is expected that the use of GPS units in handheld digital image capture devices will become ubiquitous as advances in hardware make the GPS units smaller, less expensive, and more energy-efficient. In the meantime, however, a need exists for a method and system for establishing the location of digital images that does not suffer the limitations present with today's GPS technology. The present invention addresses such a need.

BRIEF SUMMARY

The present invention provides a method and system for establishing a location for a digital image using local networks, rather than using GPS units. Aspects of the invention include broadcasting over a network a location identifier (ID) identifying a location of the network; detecting the location ID by a digital image capture device coupled to the network; and in response to the image capture device capturing a digital image when in communication with the network, associating the location ID with the digital image.

In a second embodiment of the present invention, the location ID broadcast over the network includes a network ID. After the mobile device captures a digital image while in communication with the network, the network ID is sent to an online location information service, which looks-up the location of the network based on the network ID. The location information is then returned for association with the digital image, preferably as a location tag. In a third aspect of the present invention, not only does the location information service provide the user with general capture location tags, but may also provide a specific description tag describing the contents of the images by matching uploaded captured images to reference images captured within the same network, and using description tags saved with the reference images to automatically tag the uploaded images.

According to the method and system disclosed herein, the present invention provides users of mobile devices with automatic location tagging of images captured by mobile devices without the need and expense of GPS units.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating a conventional Ricoh camera with an attached GPS CompactFlash card.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a system for utilizing local networks to determine a location of digital images captured with a mobile device according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating the process for establishing a location for a digital image based on a detected location ID according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a system for utilizing local wireless networks to determine a location of digital images captured with a wireless mobile device.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating the process for establishing a location for a digital image based on a detected network ID in a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating the process for establishing the location for digital images based on a detected network ID in further detail according to a first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram illustrating a system for providing specific description tags describing the content of digital images.

FIGS. 8A-8B are flow diagrams illustrating the process of automatically tagging images with location information that includes a description of the image in accordance with a preferred embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention relates to location service for digital images. The following description is presented to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention and is provided in the context of a patent application and its requirements. Various modifications to the preferred embodiments and the generic principles and features described herein will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments shown, but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and features described herein.

With recent advancements in the integration of GPS and digital imaging, it has been found desirable to add location information to the images as a user travels from place to place taking pictures, as location is one of the strongest memory cues when people are recalling past events. However, as stated above, the use of GPS systems and digital image capture devices has inherent limitations that hinder the widespread adoption of automatic tagging of images with location information.

According to the present invention, rather than using GPS units to geocode digital images to provide location information, the present invention utilizes the availability of many small local area wireless networks as a means of establishing location for digital images. In a first embodiment, wireless networks are configured to broadcast location identifiers (IDs), which may then be detected by mobile devices and associated with any images captured while the mobile device is within detectable range of the wireless network. In the first embodiment, the location ID is text and/or audio tags identifying the geographical location (e.g., Starbucks, Palo Alto, Calif.). In a second embodiment of the present invention, the location IDs broadcast by the networks are network IDs. After the mobile device captures a digital image while in communication with the network, the network ID is sent to an online location service, which looks-up the location of the network based on the network ID. The location information is then returned for association with the digital image, preferably as a location tag.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a system for utilizing local networks to determine a location of digital images captured with a mobile device according to the first embodiment of the present invention. The system includes a plurality of networks 14 and a hand-held digital image capture device, (hereinafter, mobile device) 16. Although in a preferred embodiment, the network 14 and the mobile device are wireless, as shown, a wired network and wired network connection to the device 16 may also be used to implement the present invention. The wireless networks 14 typically include one or more wireless access ports 20 depending on the geographic size of the network. The geographic boundary covered by each wireless network 14 is commonly referred to as a hot spot. Typically, anyone entering the hot spot with a compliant wireless device has connectivity to the Internet 22. In a preferred embodiment, the wireless networks 14 and the mobile device 16 comply with the IEEE standard 802 and/or BlueTooth and substitutes therefore. In an 802.11 Wi-Fi network, each access port 20 has a range of approximately 150 feet, while in an 802.16 or 802.20 WiMAX network, each access port 20 has a range measured in miles.

The mobile device 16, which may be a camera phone, PDA and the like, includes a CPU or DSP 30, a memory 32, a network interface 34, and device specific components 37, including a camera, for carrying out the intended function of the device 16.

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating the process for establishing a location for a digital image based on a detected location ID according to the first embodiment. Referring to both FIGS. 2 and 3, the process begins by providing the wireless network 14 with the ability to broadcast an identifier of the location of the wireless network, referred to hereinafter as a location ID 6 in step 5. As stated above, the location ID 6 may comprise text, an audio clip, or both (e.g., “San Francisco international Airport”). In a preferred embodiment, the wireless network 14 broadcast the location ID 6 as part of the wireless protocol. In an alternative embodiment, the wireless network 14 is provided with a separate device that broadcast the location ID 6 as a message to all devices on the wireless network 14. In this environment, a separate device could be a small unit that plugs into the wall of the local establishment and is set up to have access to the local wireless network 14 for just this purpose.

In step 7, the mobile device 16 is also provided with a small custom client, referred to as a location tagging application 4 that uses the network interface 34 to detect the presence of the wireless network 14 when coupled to the network, and read the location ID broadcast from the access port 20 of the network 14. The network interface 34 at a minimum includes a wireless receiver for enabling the device 16 to detect the presence of the wireless network 14 under direction of the location tagging application 4. Preferably, full communication with the network 14 does not need to be established before the location tagging application 4 can detect the broadcast location ID. Alternatively, the network interface 34 may comprise a transceiver that provides the mobile device 16 with full wireless communication.

In step 9, in response to the mobile device 16 capturing a digital image 24 while in the presence of the wireless network 14, the location tagging application 4 automatically associates the location ID 6 with the captured image 24. According to the first embodiment of the present invention, a method and system for automatically determining the location of images captured by mobile device and for associating the location with the images using broadcast location IDs is provided that is a cost-effective alternative to the use of bulky and expensive GPS systems.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a system for utilizing local wireless networks to determine a location of digital images captured with a wireless mobile device according to the second embodiment of the present invention. The system 10 includes a plurality of wireless networks 14, a mobile device 16, and an optional PC 18 for storing the images captured by the image capture device 14.

The second embodiment of the present invention also eliminates the need to use GPS systems for location information for images by providing either the mobile device 16 and/or the PC 18 with a location tagging application 36 that may perform the same functions described above for the tagging application 4, but also communicates with a network-based location information service 12 over the Internet 22. After the mobile device 16 captures digital images 24 while in the presence of the wireless network 14, the user of the mobile device 16 utilizes the location information service 12 to have the captured images 24 automatically tagged with a predefined location tag 28 associated with the detected network ID 26.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating the process for establishing a location for a digital image based on a detected network ID in a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Referring to both FIGS. 4 and 5, the process begins in step 100 when the mobile device 16 detects the presence of one or more of the wireless networks 14 and determines an identifier (ID) of the networks 14. The network interface 34 at a minimum includes a wireless receiver for enabling the device 16 to detect the presence of the wireless network 14 under direction of the location tagging application 36. Alternatively, the network interface 34 may comprise a transceiver that provides the mobile device 16 with full wireless communication. The identifier of the network or network ID 26 detected by the mobile device 16 may be a network address and/or an ID of the nearest access port 20 in a multi-port network 14.

In step 102, in response to the mobile device 16 capturing a digital image 24 while in range of the wireless network 14, the detected network ID 26 is used to establish the location of the network. This is accomplished by sending the network ID 26 to a server 38 of the location information service 12 for retrieval of the location tag 28 corresponding to the submitted network ID 26. In response to receiving the network ID 26, in step 104 the server 38 returns the location tag 28 corresponding to the network ID 26 so that the location of the network can then be associated with the digital image 14.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating the process for establishing the location for digital images based on a detected network ID in further detail. According to a first embodiment of the present invention, the process includes two stages: a location information service setup stage 200 and an operations stage 202.

The setup stage 200 begins in step 204 by establishing the location information service 12 that includes a plurality of participating wireless networks 14 that broadcast network ID's 26 in a manner that enables the networks 14 and/or their access ports 20 to be identified through their wireless protocol, and that make their network ID's 26 available to the location information service 12. According to the present invention, each network 14 owner provides to the location information service 12 its network ID 26 and a location tag 28 describing the location of the network 14. The network ID 26 and the location tag 28 are stored in a network provider database 40 along with other information regarding each wireless network 14, including an account number 42, and a name of the network provider 44. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the location information service 12 agrees to pay the owner of each participating wireless network 14 a fee to become part of the location information service 12. The fee may be a one time lump sum or an incremental fee based on the number of location tag requests for the network 14 that the location service 12 receives over some period of time, or a combination of these two payment methods.

The setup stage 200 also includes providing a wireless network component for use in the mobile device 16 in step 206, preferably the location tagging application 36 that discovers local wireless networks 14 and communicates with them sufficiently through the network interface 34 to retrieve the network ID 26. As described above, retrieving the network ID 26 may not require any transmission on the part of the mobile device 16 if the network ID 26 is transmitted as part of the network's normal wireless protocol. In an alternate embodiment, a wireless device could be provided either as part of a wireless network 14 or as a stand-alone device whose sole purpose is to transmit such information to the wireless device 16.

Prior to accessing the location information service 12 with the mobile devices 16, end-users of the mobile devices 16 must first signup with the location information service 12, preferably for a fee. For example, the location information service 12 may charge users a one cent fee for each network ID upload. Once a user is signed up, an account is created for the user and stored in a user account database 46.

The operations stage 202 begins in step 208 when the mobile device 16 of a location service registered user detects the network ID 26 of the wireless network 14. In step 210, the mobile device 16 stores the detected network ID 26 in association with each image 24 captured while the mobile device 16 is in detectable range of the network ID 26. In step 212, the location tagging application 36 uploads the network ID's 26 associated with the captured images 24 to the server 38 for the purpose of receiving in response the location tag 28 describing where the images were taken. Note, if several images were taken within the same wireless network 14, then the location tagging application 36 need only transmit a single detected network ID 26. If different images 24 were taken within different wireless networks 14, then the network ID for each detected wireless network 14 would be sent to the server 38.

In a preferred embodiment, the network ID's 26 are sent to the server 38 from the location tagging application 36 running on the user's PC 18 after the images 24 and their network ID's 26 are transferred to the PC 18. Alternatively, the location tagging application 36 on the mobile device 16 may be used to transfer the network ID's 26 directly to the server 38.

In step 214, after receiving the network ID's 26, the server 38 queries the network provider database 40 with each received network ID 26, and retrieves the corresponding location tags 28. In step 216, the server 38 returns the network ID's 26 and their corresponding location tags 28 to the requesting location tagging application 36. In step 218, the location tagging application 36 associates the location tags 26 with the images 24 having matching network ID's 26. Preferably, location tags 26 are stored as part of the image's metadata. In step 220, when the images 24 are subsequently displayed to the user, the location tagging application 36 also displays the corresponding location tags 28, thereby automatically indicating the general capture location of the picture.

In a third embodiment of the present invention, not only does the location information service 12 provide the user with the general capture location tag for each image 24, but also provides a specific description tag that describes the content of the image 24.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram illustrating a system for providing specific description tags describing the content of digital images, where like components from FIG. 4 have like reference numerals. To implement the third embodiment of the present invention, the location information service 12 is provided with a photographer account database 50, a reference image database 52, and an image recognition application 54.

FIGS. 8A-8B are flow diagrams illustrating the process of automatically tagging images with location information that includes a description of the image in accordance with a preferred embodiment. The process is similar to that described with respect to FIG. 6 with additional steps. Therefore, FIGS. 8A-8B reproduce the steps from FIG. 6 along with modified and additional steps corresponding to the second embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to both FIGS. 7 and 8A, the first modification begins with new step 207 where each network owner or a third-party photographer provides the location information service 12 with reference images 56 of items of interest within, and in view of, the wireless network 14 along with corresponding description tags 58 indicating the content of the reference image 56. As an example, the description tags 58 may identify landmarks, streets, buildings, and so on. The reference images 56 and the corresponding description tags 58 are stored in the reference image database 52. In a further aspect of this embodiment, the location information service 12 pays a fee for any reference images 56 submitted. In the case where the network owner submits the reference images 56, the transaction is stored in the network provider database 40 under the account number of the network 14. In the case of a third party supplying the reference images 56, the transaction is stored in a photographer account database 50. In the case where reference images 56 are provided by the user of the mobile device 16, the transaction is stored in the user account database 46. Registered users may be paid in the form of free tagging services, rather than money.

The beginning of the operations stage 202 remains the same in which the network ID 26 is detected and stored with each image captured within the wireless network 14 in steps 208 and 210. In step 212′ the location tagging application uploads both the images 24 and the network ID's 26 associated with the images to the server 38. As an alternative to sending full resolution images, the location tagging application 36 may upload reduced resolution images to the service 12.

In step 214, after receiving the network ID's 26, the server 38 queries the network provider database 40 with each received network ID 26, and retrieves the corresponding location tags 28. In step 215, the server 38 invokes the image recognition application 54 to compare the uploaded images 24 with relevant reference images 56 associated with the same network ID 26 as the uploaded images 24, and retrieves the description tags 58 of the matching reference images 56. Various types of image recognition programs are well-known to those with ordinary skill in the art and therefore will not be described further.

Referring to FIG. 8B, in step 216, if a match for the image 24 is found, then the server 38 returns the corresponding description tag 58 to the requesting location tagging application 36; otherwise, the server 38 returns the corresponding general location tag 28. Whichever tag is returned, the description tags 58 and/or the location tag 28, the tag is preferably stored as part of the image's metadata. The description tag 58 may contain the same information contained in general location tag 28 plus specific information about the content of the image. In step 220, when the images 24 are subsequently displayed to the user, the tags 58 or 28 are returned in association with each image 24 are also displayed, thereby automatically indicating the specific content of the image, or otherwise the general capture location of the image. In an alternative embodiment, both tags 58 and 28 for an image may be returned and displayed.

In step 224, the location tagging application 36 determines if there are any images 24 returned from the server 38 without a matching description tag 58. If so, then the location tagging application 36 prompts the user to enter a description in step 226. If the user complies, the location tagging application 36 transmits the description tag to the server 228 (with user permission). In step 230, the server 38 stores the image 24 as a reference image 56 in the reference image database 52 along with the uploaded description tag 58 and the corresponding network ID, thereby helping to populate the reference image database to increase the probability of future image recognition matches.

Notice that the location information service 12 need not be concerned with tampering in the form of falsely submitted images or tags because of built-in security and feedback mechanisms associated in the service 12. There are two types of possible tampering: one is the submission of reference images 56 having intentionally wrong network ID's, and the second is the submission of images 56 having intentionally bogus description tags 58. The first type of tampering can be taken care of by ensuring that the network ID's 26 transmitted to the service 12 in association with the images 24 are securely embedded within the images 24 so that one intent on tampering could not simply copy the network ID from one image into another. However, even if one could upload a reference image 56 associated with the wrong network ID to the service 12, no harm would be done because an image 24 uploaded to service 12 for recognition would not likely match the false image. Over time, any reference image 56 that produces no matches in the database 52 could be deleted. The second type of tampering where an image is submitted with a bogus description type 58 may result in an image 24 submitted by a user being returned with the bogus description tag 58. In this instance, the user would presumably report the incorrect description tag 58 to the location information service 12, which may then either delete that entry in the database 52 or correct it. This could be done automatically if the user replaces the description in the tag with a different description. In this case, the tagging application could ask the user if the new description was better than the old, or if the old was in fact incorrect.

A method and system for establishing a location for a digital image has been disclosed. The present invention has been described in accordance with the embodiments shown, and one of ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize that there could be variations to the embodiments, and any variations would be within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, many modifications may be made by one of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

The methods described herein can be embodied in executable instructions stored in a computer-readable medium for use by or in connection with an instruction execution machine, system, apparatus, or device, such as a computer-based or processor-containing machine, system, apparatus, or device. As used here, a “computer-readable medium” can include one or more of any suitable media for storing the executable instructions of a computer program in one or more of an electronic, magnetic, optical, and electromagnetic form, such that the instruction execution machine, system, apparatus, or device can read (or fetch) the instructions from the computer readable medium and execute the instructions for carrying out the described methods. A non-exhaustive list of conventional exemplary computer readable medium includes: a portable computer diskette; a random access memory (RAM); a read only memory (ROM); an erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM or Flash memory); optical storage devices, including a portable compact disc (CD), a portable digital video disc (DVD), and the like.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8001124 *Oct 25, 2010Aug 16, 2011Qurio HoldingsSystem and method for tagging images based on positional information
US8359314Aug 11, 2011Jan 22, 2013Quiro Holdings, Inc.System and method for tagging images based on positional information
US20130060710 *May 2, 2012Mar 7, 2013Matthew PreussSystem, Method and Apparatus for Managing and Conducting Property Inspections
WO2012166874A2 *May 31, 2012Dec 6, 2012Facebook, Inc.Computer-vision-assisted location check-in
Classifications
U.S. Classification709/217, 707/803, 707/758, 707/E17.014, 707/E17.044, 707/E17.005
International ClassificationG06F15/16, G06F17/30
Cooperative ClassificationH04L67/18, H04L67/04, H04N2201/3226, H04N1/00281, H04N2201/3205, H04W4/185, H04W4/02, H04N2201/3253
European ClassificationH04W4/02, H04W4/18E, H04L29/08N3, H04L29/08N17, H04N1/00C7
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Mar 26, 2010ASAssignment
Owner name: IPAC ACQUISITION SUBSIDIARY I, LLC, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ANDERSON, ERIC C.;MORRIS, ROBERT P.;SIGNING DATES FROM 20041101 TO 20041103;REEL/FRAME:024142/0196
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:IPAC ACQUISITION SUBSIDIARY I, LLC;REEL/FRAME:024142/0199
Owner name: SCENERA TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Effective date: 20061102