It’s been a little over two weeks since the latest Facebook API euthanasia which saw the Face.com API shuttered. Among those disappointed by the API shutdown were the founders of LambdaLabs, which quickly began work on an alternative, the LambdaLabs Face API. Though not as full-featured as the Face.com API, Lambda’s looks likely to stay online longer.
If all you need is basic face detection, this API likely suits your needs. It identifies the face, nose and mouth. It just added gender detection, though it’s not 100%, something that was also true of Face.com, to the chagrin of some of my apparently more feminine male friends. My favorite feature, facial mood detection, is not implemented nor on the roadmap. Smile detection is expected, but no timeline is given.
To be a serious face API, you need to be able to do face recognition in addition to detection. According to the LambdaLabs site, that is coming July 30.
Face detection and recognition are not simple problems. In my discussions with Face.com, it was clear the company thought highly of its technology. “The new face recognition algorithm uses a group of new techniques to boost results by 30%,” Face.com’s Gil Hirsch told me in March. “We’re used to increments of 3% per year. It’s mostly focusing on reducing false positives.” Among Face.com’s methods is converting photos to 3D to make a map of the face.
It’s unclear whether Face.com’s technology really is as great as its CEO thinks (there were questionable facial age detection results). Even more unclear is whether the team behind LambdaLabs can recreate it in a couple weeks. But I’m sure glad they’re trying.