The A-Z of AI

Image recognition

How AI systems learn to "see" the world around them.

Image recognition is the technology that enables AI to recognize and categorize objects in the world around us.

Sometimes known as "computer vision," image recognition systems can be taught to recognize anything from individuals to famous landmarks, or even pets, simply by studying a range of reference images provided for them.

The systems can then help with everyday tasks, like organizing smartphone photos; for example, automatically suggesting a new album for vacation photos after a trip.

Each image is like a fingerprint.

AI systems are trained to spot identifying features — such as colors and shapes — and cross-reference them with thousands of other images in order to recognize and label them accurately.

Someone’s hand holds a smartphone up to a Portugese warning sign. The smartphone has translated the text into English, reading "Danger! Cliff Ahead."

The same technology that can recognize landmarks and group vacation photos is also being put to more profound use elsewhere, helping to translate warning signs in foreign languages or protect children from explicit content online.