Inside HP Labs: 8 cool projects

On tap: A color thesaurus, photonics, and book and magazine publishing

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Snapfish Labs' Pet Eye

Snapfish is the HP-owned portal for storing photos, similar to Flickr.com. At Snapfish Labs, the company offers experimental tools to enhance the service. Some can improve the color of images or crop them automatically, but one of the more interesting tools is called Pet Eye.

HP's Pet Eye

Pet Eye uses a new set of algorithms to eliminate glowing eyes in pet photos.

Click to view larger image.

It turns out that the normal red-eye reduction on many digital cameras does not work with pets, because of how the technology works; it looks for both face color and human eye shape. Pet Eye accomplishes the same goal, removing glare or red eye from the pet, by using a different method.

"Pet Eye was developed in the HP products and imaging group using algorithms that analyze a pet photo," says Qian Lin, an HP Labs researcher. "We knew that the pet eye glare could be any color -- white or orange," for instance. "Detection has a hard time knowing if the glow is a tree light or a car light. We now look for the typical pet eye colors and look for the circular regions that match the eye shape of a pet. It is also using a sequence of classifiers and color data matching."

Sustainable data center

The goal of the sustainable data center project at HP Labs is to find out how future data centers can be self-sustaining -- rather than consuming more energy, they would manage the energy systems of an entire building or even a city and pay for IT many times over. The five areas of sustainability, according to HP, are energy savings -- with a 25% to 40% reduction in costs -- resiliency, increased efficiency (such as higher rack operating temperatures), computer air-conditioning consolidation and better flexibility.

The idea is to provide much better information about real-time energy usage in a data center and adjust service-level agreements to meet specific demands. Today, data centers usually provide more capacity than business units need, to make sure there are no outages.

HP's  data center project
HP's Chandrakant Patel shows how air flow works in the sustainable data center.

"The TCO is driven by energy, as in the cost of equipment, maintaining it, disposing of it," says Chandrakant D. Patel, director of the Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab. "For the next-generation city, we are thinking that we can use the IT ecosystem to manage the ecosystem around it. We can seamlessly integrate the IT systems into the city so we can manage the ecosystem -- services such as transport, waste and power."

Photonics

Photonics is the use of light to transport data. It is used today in data centers to connect one building to another, via fiber optics, and is emerging as a technology that can connect one server rack to another.

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