A new star from Google - People Hopper

People Hopper is a new application for Orkut that lets you take your profile image and 'morph' it into your friend's–using publicly available images from other Orkut users along the way. It is a fun app that also allows you to make new connections–since the images that show in your Hopper all come from people who have chosen to make their profiles public, you can click through to learn more about them and reach out to them. You can also morph one friend into another. No computer graphics are used to generate the path.

To be able to use People Hopper, one needs to have an Orkut account. If you don't already have one, create a new account here. Then, you can add the gadget by clicking on "add apps" under the "more" menu, or simply click here to use people hopper.

To generate a 'morph', People Hopper uses image matching technology. First, faces are automatically detected in public profile images and normalized for improved contrast and size. Then, for each image, we find other publicly available profile images that are similar to one another. Then, when you pick a friend you want to be your end match, we just hop along similar public images, step-by-step, until the connection is made! You can think of it as an image graph between friends, similar to the friendship graph already on Orkut. We don't use any face-specific features or metrics during this process. It is just a simple matching to find similar pictures.

The quality of the path depends on two main factors: the appearance of faces in profile images of Orkut users and the similarity measure used for image matching. Since we cannot control the appearance of profile images, it may happen that for a particular image there exists no visually similar image in the database. Developing better similarity measures is a topic of continuing research.

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