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These programmers taught an AI how to understand tattoos


By Tristan Greene

Tristan Greene is a sailor gleefully writing about living on dry land. He’s been known to brag about his Rockband 2 scores.

Artificial Intelligence is getting hip by learning about tattoos. A couple of developers for the app Tattoodo wanted a better way to categorize all the tat pics they receive, so they built an algorithm. The pair created a neural-network and taught it how to use an iPhone camera to determine the style of a tattoo.

The process involved using a deep-learning framework called Caffe, and feeding it data-sets with images representative of different tattoo styles. Once the initial training session was complete, the AI could identify the style of a tattoo with pretty impressive accuracy.


Tattoos are intimate, permanent, and they represent a reminder of the past. The fundamental process of receiving one hasn’t changed in decades, and before electricity it was the same for thousands of years.

Yet, if there’s one thing we’re learning: you can add AI to anything and make it better.

Dennis Micky Jensen and Goran Vuksic, the developers responsible, are using visual recognition in a way that could benefit anyone looking to get inked. While the AI isn’t implemented into the app yet (they’re still feeding it data) they intend to finish training the AI then go forward from there. Vuksic told us via email:

Before we use it in our app, we want to use this model to classify the rest of our pictures. We have 360K pictures and only a bit over 100k are classified (those are the images we used for the training of the neural network). AI will help us to classify the remaining 250k pictures… Classification is really important for us because, based on it, we can show users personalized feeds depending on what styles they like, what artists they follow, what those artists are specialized in, etc.

Without AI to sort images, a person has to view each one, decide what style it represents, tag the image, and then create hashtags so that other users can find it. This can all be handled by a robot, and with an astronomical increase in efficiency.

More images means more ideas being shared, more tattoos being categorized, and — perhaps one day soon — better recommendations to help inspire your next piece.

AI is pointless if it doesn’t solve problems, make life easier for people, and work in an unobtrusive way. This is a great example of the ‘everyday AI’ we’re all going to benefit from, even if we don’t know it’s there.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay

This article was originally published on The Next Web.

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