raw code

Face detection with PHP

Robert Eisele

The headline does say facedetection - but what does this mean? Easy said, this article focus on how to find faces on images with PHP. Faces have a certain form and so it is possible to search for it. At the end of the search you might say how many human faces are on the image or better: Where are human faces on my image. This article is not intended to be mathematically.

Download PHP Facedetect

Intel works on the OpenCV library to search for structures on images. The library is shipped with training files, which were trained with hundrets of photos to detect faces from different perspectives on images and so we can focus on the PHP part.

Some may ask, what is this good for? Google has added the opportunity to search only for faces in their Image Search. Lets play with Google. The SERP of the search for "Washington" looks something like this:

Google search for Washington without face attribute

Now I'll add the attribute &imgtype=face to the URI - and what do we see?

Google search for Washington with face attribute

Well, we could create an image-database which contains a flag for whether there is a face on it and then you could filter for them. We could also go a step ahead and save how many faces are on a given image to calculate a rank. Another example is image tagging. If you would like to say "this is Sarah on the image", you could add a writeable layer in the region of her face. Sounds nice? Well, read on :-)

For all PHP developers I have a good message: I wrote an OpenCV wrapper to detect faces with PHP. The extension offers the two new functions: face_count() and face_detect(). In princible, they differ only by their return value. The first returns only the number of faces found on the given image and the other an associative array of their coordinates. face_count() serves only to save the loops for counting.

As I've already mentioned, the library is shipped with a few resource files for facedetection. I want to show you an example with different training files. I will show the result by draw a rectangle around the face.


result for haarcascade_frontalface_alt2


result for haarcascade_frontalface_alt_tree


result for haarcascade_frontalface_alt


result for haarcascade_frontalface_default


result for haarcascade_lowerbody


result for haarcascade_profileface


result for haarcascade_upperbody

The result in this case is not really strong but you should test PHP-Facedetect for yourself. I had the best results with haarcascade_frontalface_alt. For real world environments it would be good to combine the best resource files.

Go to the Facedetect Project Page

To show you a more dynamic example I searched for the possibility to get a random photo of a flickr stream. Because I don't use the Pear Environment, I wrote my own little Script to generate the Images. Here is the result:

To use another "random" image click here.