CVC, granted with a La Caixa – Palau Macaya grant for Public engagement of AI and Computer Vision

The Computer Vision Center has been granted a project that will take the latest AI research to the public, in a series of work groups, seminars and debates that go under the title ‘Artificial Intelligence, ethics and public participation’.

The project, which intends to empower citizens by giving them accurate and specific information of the latest achievements within the AI industry and research centers, will include all actors of society, in order to discuss about AI and ethics in five specific areas: Autonomous driving, Marketing and social networks, Health, Education and Digital humanities. Each session will be coordinated by a CVC researcher, and will count with professionals from industry, academia, citizen associations and public administration.

The project will start in October 2018 and end in March 2019, with a final session at the Catalan Parliament where all the steps and actions proposed by the work groups will be compiled and brought to the MPs. The project has a clear citizen oriented focus and intends to be a channel to visualize the 3Os strategy proposed by Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas: Open Science, Open Innovation and Open to the world.

The project is coordinated by CVC’s Communication Manager, Alexandra Canet, and UAB Professor, Silvia Puente, and will be articulated in five focus groups consisting of citizens and sectorial associations which will actively participate in the different seminars, dialogues and debates proposed. The idea is to configure a space in which all agents feel free to express their thoughts, doubts, fears and needs and thus point out to politicians the current preoccupations of citizens regarding AI regulation.

The project counts with the participation of other research units and centers such as the AIII-CSIC (The Spanish Research Council’s Artificial Intelligence Institute), the CRM (The Catalan Mathematics Research Center), or the Philosophy Institute in Madrid. It will also count with Universities such as the UAB, UPF and UB. Industry will be highly present, with names still to be confirmed, and professionals from the Public Administration on each topic will also play an important role during the project.

VISUAL TAGGING: Visual listening for social networks

Over 95 million photos are uploaded every day in Instagram with an approximate 4.2 billion likes per day according to statistics made by Brandwatch. Visual content, such as photos and videos, is gaining more and more popularity in social media, being the most visual networks the ones which are experiencing the greatest growth of users in recent years.

The digital world has meant a revolution for marketing and business strategies. Having a satisfactory presence on the Internet requires following adequate strategies on social networks, which are, today, one of the most important corporate identity symbols. To calculate the impact of a brand on social media, posts are commonly analysed in search of the brand. But they are searched by text. Only 20% of the photos shared within the networks has an accompanying text that identifies the brand. The rest, gets lost.

Visual Tagging, a CVC spin-off, was born in 2012 with the aim of solving this problem. With intelligent information systems that allow object detection in images, Visual Tagging’s technology is capable of recognising objects from catalogues, films, TV programs and social media pictures.

The technology behind

Visual Tagging does what is called ’visual social listening’: the analysis and extraction of information from images. Its technology is able to recognise a brand or logo within photos and videos posted in social media and detect the conversation that spurs around the brand.

Visual Tagging is mainly focused on Twitter and Instagram: “Nowadays, there is a generation that lives and expresses itself through Instagram and Twitter. Analysing these networks, companies can detect in real time hundreds and thousands of images in which their products are shown”, as pointed out by Dr. Xavier Roca, Visual Tagging’s founder and CEO. With this information, the brand’s Community Manager can interact with its community by liking and commenting posts and can also detect Brand ambassadors by analysing the profiles that share images with the brand’s logo more regularly. Moreover, companies can detect bad uses of their logo such as forgeries, and thus take legal measures.

Visual Tagging’s main costumers are well-known brands of consumer products, especially those within the food and beverage sector. They receive detailed statistics of the brand’s presence in social media extracted from both quantitative and qualitative analysis. A quantitative analysis gives them data such as how many photos with the brand’s logo have been uploaded, when they’ve been shared, which hashtags are usually used along the brand, in which environments, gender, geolocation and age range of the people who post those images.

Qualitative analysis provides an added value: it allows market research based on the interpretation of consumption habits and it contributes in the detection of other possible uses of the brand’s product. As Dr. Xavier Roca puts it: “With the market surveys we made of an ice cream brand, we realised that people gave different uses to the product. They shared photos using the ice cream as a birthday cake and also many people shared photos of their pets eating the product. This information gives the brand some creative ideas or clues about how to approach its next marketing campaign”.

A great boost for small companies

Another Visual Tagging service is to increase the brand’s community in social networks. This option is especially thought for all those small companies and influencers whose main objective is to get more followers and popularity or for those who want to promote their products through social media. To achieve this, Visual Tagging takes some hashtags and key words related with the brand’s product and automatically delivers likes to some of these photos. Doing this, they catch the user’s attention and, most undoubtedly, a new follower: “Since the number of daily likes on Instagram is limited, it is essential to select correctly the ones that have more probabilities to be future followers when it comes to deliver likes”, Dr. Xavier Roca stated.

With this method the follower’s growth is gradual and steady, taking its time. Unlike the known as ‘click farms’, which offer the purchase of large amounts of bots that will increase immediately the number of followers, followers achieved with Visual Tagging will have followed the account by their own decision: “We probably don’t have a level of follower’s growth as fast as other technologies but we assure that the followers will be real users. The increase of followers with bots is totally impersonal and will not provide any interaction between the company and its audience. On the contrary, the followers reached with Visual Tagging will be people who are really interested in the brand’s products, which means that they are more likely to buy or rent them”, clarified Dr. Xavier Roca.

The still unknown power of social media

It’s a fact that the digital world has given new promotion channels to companies, big or small, and that it has provided them with more facilities when interacting with their customers. Because of this, according to a study carried out by SAGE, three out of four SMEs already are present in social networks.

As Dr. Xavier Roca explained, Visual Tagging team wants to maintain a close contact with their customers in order to have insights into what their main needs are and to know which are their opinions: “Our technology usually catches the attention and surprises our customers. They are very shocked when they realised all the things they can know with our statistics. Nevertheless, Visual Tagging is still a complex technology and sometimes it is difficult to understand the real importance of the information that social networks provide”.

Social networks, although not a novelty any more, aren’t exploited to their full potential by companies as a communication tool. As Dr. Xavier Roca cleverly exposes, a good strategy in social networks will allow companies to stand out from the lot: “The companies that analyse the trends of social networks and their position in them, are the ones that create strategies that will allow them to go one step ahead of the rest”.  

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