Wednesday, May 23, 2007

iTunes, embedded metadata, and DNA barcoding

Continuing on this theme of embedded metadata, this is one reason why DNA barcodingis so appealing. A DNA barcode is rather like embedded metadata -- once we extract it we can look up the sequence and determine the organism's identity (or, at least whether we've seen it before). It's very like identifying a CD based on a hash computed from the track lengths. Traditional identification is more complicated, involves more nebulous data (lets see, my frog has two bumps on the head, gee, are those things in that picture of a frog bumps?), much of which is not online.


Donat Agosti said...

on my new mobile (Sony Ericsson w880i I have a similar tool like what you descrive for your DNA sequences: TrackID just tells me what music I am listening two, and where I can buy it, when I record a bit a music and submit it.

I guess, if we would have a similar service for image analysis set up, somebody could also submit an image and you get a name

Roderic Page said...

The problem is that music is easy. Services like MusicBrainz use things like track number and length, and acoustic properties to match songs to metadata. I think what you are talking about is image recognition. A computer can fairly easily figure out if a sound track matches one in a database, but it can't tell you what kind of ant is in a picture (or whether it is, in fact, an ant) -- at least, not easily.

Donat Agosti said...

Again, we should look what's happening outside of our niche: See what all this terror mania pushes, such as automated recognition of people walking through a corridor at the Zurich Airport to match them with existing images of people they rather do not want to have around? What we miss will not be the technology but rather the underlying reference image database and adequate access to them. Brian's stuff on antweb is just such an example of images, and there are image analysis tools implemented at the NHM and AMNH which ought to do reasonably well - at least what Platnick et al claim.