Microsoft’s fun new toy is being folded into everything.
After introducing a dedicated site for the company’s HowOldRobot and then rolling out a Windows Phone app, the face age-guessing machine is now live in Bing’s image search.
Try it out by searching for a celebrity or notable person in Bing, then click the Images link from the results page. Next, click on the image so that it opens in its own page with a carousel thumbnail gallery beneath the primary image.
Finally, hover over the larger image and click the #HowOldRobot link if it appears—sometimes it won’t.
A few seconds later, Microsoft’s tech will take its best guess at the age of the person in the image.
In my tests, the age robot wasn’t so great at guessing celebrity ages. It guessed Barack Obama was in his early forties (he’s 53), The Rolling Stone’s Keith Richards was pegged at 60 (he’s 71), and this admittedly touched up publicity image of Cher (age 69) got an age estimate of 27—Photoshop plus plastic surgery is fooling the machines. For fun, I also tried Groot from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. Bing recognized Groot’s face, but was too chicken to even guess at an age.
Microsoft’s age robot is based on Project Oxford, a more full-featured tech that is designed to recognize faces and guess the age and gender.
Why this matters: The age robot may seem like plain old fun right now, but Microsoft probably has big plans for the tech. Folding it into Bing means Microsoft can expose the technology to millions of faces all over the web. It wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft later added a “thumbs up, thumbs down” mechanism to let you rate the age robot’s guesses. Software that is able to accurately guess ages would make facial recognition more accurate and could have all kinds of applications for fields like medicine, law enforcement, public security, or even just a contacts app for a heads-up display.
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Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.