AI Tattoo Technology: Interview with Tech Developer Dennis Jensen

AI Tattoo Technology: Interview with Tech Developer Dennis Jensen

By Stories

In this interview with developer Dennis Jensen, he talks about his new AI tattoo tool that helps detect and classify tattoo images.

You probably already knew this...but Tattoodo has some really awesome people working for them. One of them, Dennis Micky Jensen, not only wears some pretty spiffy suits, but he's also the developer behind new AI tattoo technology. He's spoken at tons of events around the globe about his project, and was recently posted on Google's IG page promoting him and Tattoodo! Seriously cool! 

Dennis took some time out of his busy tech schedule to talk more about how AI and smart tattoo technology are going to revolutionize the way we pick our ink as well as classify and organize our tattoo ideas

Can you talk about the AI project, and how you came up with the idea?

In the tech department of Tattoodo, we have a quarterly "hackathon", where developers across teams can work on anything they want, as long as it solves some sort of a business need. 

We had for some time talked about how only a small portion of our images (user uploads) are classified and linked to a certain tattoo style. 
That's an issue when a user of our platform wants to search for tattoos within a certain style. At that time, that could only be solved by the uploader adding hashtags that resembles a tattoo style, which is a lot of responsibility give to our users and, on top of that, the user could just put in an entirely wrong style of a tattoo.

We knew we wanted to lift that responsibility away from our users and solve the issue programmatically, and try to see if we could use whatever our users has uploaded already to train an AI image classifier. So I teamed up with one of our iOS developers, collected all the tattoos we had that our users had manually classified with a tattoo style, trained the AI, and then implemented the prototype in a small iPhone app. We were so happy with the initial results!

What tools have you used to support the development of the AI aspect of the Tattoodo app?

The first initial AI prototypes was developed on a platform created by NVIDIA called DIGITS. This tool is a web based platform that helps engineers with little AI experience to create models, as well as upload and augment training data. However, as I learned more, gained more knowledge and experience, the DIGITS platform became obsolete, thus I started going into Google's AI framework called Tensorflow so I could get my hands dirtier on a lower level with python.

In machine learning data is literally everything. If your data isn't good enough, your AI models will never be either. So, in order to get the best possible training data, I developed some small applications that could help us gather training data.

One of those applications is what we today call "AI James - Tattoo Game". It is on a platform so people in the office can access it. How it works is that you basically play a game like: "Is this a good example of a Japanese tattoo?" You get presented with tattoos in a game-like fashion, where you can answer Yes/No. That has been the greatest factor of gathering training data.

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How has the project evolved since you began? How do you want to improve it and how do you go about doing something like that?

The whole AI project started out, as I mentioned, in an in-house hackathon with a Tattoo style classifier. After we blindly trained the AI prototype with only data our users gave us, we knew that if we wanted better results, we needed better training data, thus the birth of the "tattoo game" was given. The project then expanded with several other AI models to help us. For example, I've trained a model that is able to localize a tattoo (or more tattoos) in a given image. That type of AI is called "Semantic image segmentation". By localizing the tattoo in an image, we were able to calculate how much of an image that consists of tattoos, getting us a "tattoo concentration percentage". We use that data to filter out selfies, shop facades and other tattoo unrelated images from our search results.

I'm currently working on a new AI model that will be able to tell what motif is in a tattoo. Unlike tattoo styles, which consists of a somewhat limited amount of different styles, the amount of different motifs is vastly higher, and there could even be multiple different motifs in a single tattoo. This presents a whole new set of problems to solve.

How do you see the future of this project? How do you see the future of tech and tattoos in general?

The future of AI at Tattoodo is looking good. I will keep iterating over existing AI models we use and feed them with more training data as we gather it. Ideas are in the works for new AI models already, for example it would be awesome to train an AI that detects what body part tattoos are located on. That will be a cool filter to give our users when they search for tattoos.

Tech & Tattoos is still an undiscovered area. Not much research/work has been done on that particular combination of two HUGE subjects, and it doesn't help that it's only recent that the tattoo industry became digitalized. But hopefully some of my work could spawn some interest out there to explore more of this in depth.

What do you love about tattoos? What do you love about Tattoodo?

Well, what's not to love about tattoos? Being able to decorate your body, being the canvas of the work of great artists, getting something "embedded" literally inside you, is kind of intriguing. It could be a memoir of something important, culture related or even "just something that looks cool". It creates a community, and I really like that about it.

Working at Tattoodo is really awesome. I was hired originally as a Senior DevOps and Software engineer, but after the AI success, I've gotten dedicated time on a weekly basis to continue the research and development of usage of AI at Tattoodo. Tattoodo also allowed me to go speak at conferences about these subjects in cool places such as Silicon Valley, New York and London. Really cool experiences and also getting the Tattoodo brand out there! 

If you could develop anything at all, with no restrictions, using technology that maybe hasn’t even been created yet, that merged the world of tech and tattoo, what would it be?

Uff, how cool would it be to be able to spin up a hologram, grabbing a tattoo and placing it on your body, so you can see exactly how it would look on you? Well, disregarding the hologram, we are actually developing on that type of software already. Make sure to stay tuned for our new "Try it on" feature in the mobile Tattoodo app!

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