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A Swedish firm has secured $5.1m of funding to produce software that uses facial recognition to sort images on the internet with people's photo libraries.

Polar Rose AB, of Malmö, Sweden, said in a statement it should release a beta version of its software in early 2007 after getting the money (worth €4m, or SEK37m) from Copenhagen's Nordic Venture Partners.

The firm's Californian spokesman reckoned the software had some "intriguing social networking capabilities". The mind boggles.

We gather that the idea is the software acts as a sort of search tool that finds images with certain things in them as one might use the Google toolbar to find documents with certain words. Polar reckons its Bloom™ face matching technology will be just one component of this.

The brains behind the firm, founder and CTO Dr Jan Erik Solem, is pitching the tool as "bionic software", because it relies in part on its artificial intelligence to sort images, as well as input from the user.

That might be a way of saying that computers aren't yet as clever as the human brain in sorting images, so they need some help. Though we weren't able to get in touch with Polar at the time of writing to confirm this supposition, it is worth noting that facial recognition software is not yet clever enough to do what many authorities running CCTV networks in Britain would like, which is pick a face out of a crowd and match it against a database.

Polar is also pitching Bloom as a "disruptive technology". We'll hold them to that when they bring it round for a viewing in December. ®

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