Free AI developer app: IBM's new tool can label objects in videos for you

IBM offers a free tool to automate the laborious task of labeling objects in video.

IBM's missed chances: Can it catch the next wave? Since 1980 we've seen five major tech revolutions that have made the fortunes of other tech giants. When will it be the turn of IBM? Read more: https://zd.net/2E9U2HH

IBM has released a new free tool designed to help developers cut the chore of labeling images in video when training AI object-detection models.

The new auto-labeling tool is part of IBM's push to stay relevant to developers building AI products using the Google-built open-source TensorFlow framework in the IBM Cloud. 

IBM hopes its auto-labeling tool attracts developers looking to save effort and time when developing new AI applications with TensorFlow. IBM estimates it takes 200 to 500 samples of hand-labeled images for an AI object-recognition model to detect a specific object.

SEE: How to implement AI and machine learning (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

The promise is that developers building these models can spend time on more interesting and valuable tasks than labeling objects in video, which is as tedious and as combing through receipts at the end of the month – but also necessary.

The tool is part of IBM's open-source Cloud Annotations image toolset that offers developers a fast track to building object-detection models. 

"Autolabeling images speeds the process and gives developers back valuable time to work on other innovative projects," said Nicholas Bourdakos, a developer advocate at IBM's Cognitive Applications. 

Other tech giants are also tackling the labeling challenge. Microsoft has released an open-source tool for labeling objects in video called the Visual Object Tagging Tool. AWS launched Amazon Rekognition Custom Labels in December, aimed at helping businesses spot objects and images that are relevant to their business. 

The IBM auto-labeling feature is in an "early beta", according to Bourdakos, but developers can use it to model a project with automated labeling. 

SEE: Google DeepMind gamifies memory with its latest AI work

The feature is available on GitHub now by uploading video footage to IBM's Cloud Annotations tool

Bourdakos recently posted a video demonstrating how the auto-labeling feature works on video footage of two dudes showing thumbs-up and thumbs-down.