How to Choose a Provider to Outsource Image Annotation
What is Image Annotation
In simple terms, image annotation is the process of annotating, or adding-in, information to an image, through which a computer can interpret and understand, and draw inferences from it. It is also often referred to as ‘image labelling.’
Without annotation, an image is just data to a computer, or, at best, a collection of random pixels.
Image annotation combines with computer vision, an interdisciplinary scientific field that deals with how computers can gain high-level understanding from digital images or videos, to make images meaningful for a computer, in order that meaningful patterns can be established, leading to the computer being able to make accurate predictions or analyses.
Business has always been hungry for information based on which it could expand and achieve greater success. Textual and numerical data has been relatively easy to understand. With the preponderance of graphical data like images and videos, efforts are on to make this data understandable and productive for businesses.
Image annotation is the process that makes a lot of the graphical data usable and useful. Though it seems daunting because data is so voluminous, it should be done with a long-term perspective. To outsource image annotation is increasingly becoming a preferred choice with outsourcers.
A study published by Cognilytica predicts the market for manual data annotation to more than double, reaching $1.2 billion by 2023. Third-party providers expect to see a significant uptick in that growth, going from $150 million in 2018 to $1 billion in 2023. The most common types of projects continue to be object / image recognition, autonomous vehicles, and text and image annotation.
Thankfully, specialist providers like oWorkers are available to outsource image annotation projects to. Maintaining the required infrastructure, with an in-house team, ready to relieve you of time-consuming, often monotonous and expensive processing activities.
Use of Image Annotation Services in different industries
Image annotation has a wide cross-industry and cross-discipline application.
A variety of diagnostic tools are used by healthcare professionals in understanding our bodies. These tools collect data of different types, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans etc. all of which then need to be interpreted, in many cases visually.
Healthcare professionals have been experimenting with creating models based on which computers are in a position to review such data and provide a diagnosis. With time, they will only get more sophisticated.
This is expected to enhance the accuracy of the diagnosis as a machine, once trained, will always do the job perfectly, to the best of its ability. It can also easily bring up past records and compare. It could lead to releasing busy doctors for value added work.
As the world has become a more unpredictable and dangerous place, security systems hav struggled to keep pace. Today the intrusion of surveillance cameras in our lives is no longer taken as offending. It is seen as a necessary compromise of leading a secure life. In future. Hence, the purpose of the security apparatus is to identify and head-off possible events threatening us.
So far security personnel have manned the monitors tracking images sent by hundreds and thousands of these cameras. Humans, though the most intelligent, can make mistakes. Besides, two humans could have different ways of interpreting the same data.
Image annotation is now being used in security systems to train and identify articles, activities, events of a suspicious nature. A programme can rifle through hundreds and thousands of images every second with much greater precision and thoroughness than a human. Humans can focus on the few highlighted as suspicious.
Retail & eCommerce
Ecommerce is all the rage nowadays, reinforced by restrictions placed on physical movement because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image Labelling enables the right product to be presented to the shopper so that she takes a decision based on as complete an information set as possible..
Somewhat similar to healthcare for humans, this is healthcare for plants. Instead of a human inspecting each and every seedling and plant to check its health, images can be collected through drones, analysed through an AI engine that has been trained with the help of labelled data, and efforts focussed on areas that are identified as needing attention, like plants infected with disease.
This can promote what is known as precision agriculture and improve productivity and sustainability. They can also be trained to predict output, time to ripen, and make downstream arrangements like transportation accordingly.
Guess what is at the heart of this science-fiction like development, self-driving cars? It is image labelling. Enabling them to recognise obstacles on the way, enabling them to recognise traffic guidelines like stop lights, enabling them to identify turns, are all activities done through the process of capturing and labelling immense amounts of data so that they can pretty much identify everything that can possibly come in the way. That’s where high-quality image annotation comes in.
Most of our handphones now have a security feature of face recognition. The smartphone will only yield itself to the rightful owner who has been already set up as such by means of his facial image.
How has this been made possible? Once again, through image annotation. Training the algorithm through millions of images of faces and training it to distinguish one from the other.
Somewhat like automobiles, since robots need to be made environment-aware and trained to handle all that could possibly be encountered by them.
Unlike cars, however, robots generally operate within a defined space, and hence training them is easier. This is why robots have been used for many years in various applications; like retrieving physical data storage discs or files from a huge storage facility, or assembling specific parts of a car inside a manufacturing facility.
Benefits you should expect when you outsource image annotation
To outsource image annotation is now a well-accepted practice. That being said, as an outsourcer, you must be conscious of the benefits such an arrangement could deliver to your business, so that you specifically evaluate potential partners on the basis of those expectations.
What do we need to look for when we look for a partner for providing image annotation solutions for our business?
High level of quality and accuracy
Image annotation services impact on future capability of the AI engine, hence desired accuracy is an important element in delivery. Will you be getting the processing accuracy that your transactions need? Does the vendor have rigorous quality control processes like QA sample checks and double-pass annotation techniques?
oWorkers has referenceable clients willing to testify to our delivery capability. We also have an embedded Quality Analysis (QA) and Quality Control (QC) process, that is independent of delivery so that their accountability is not compromised. They keep the delivery teams honest and provide regular input to top management on team performance.
Competitive pricing, with flexibility
When we outsource image annotation, are we getting a competitive price for the service? Of course, the pricing number should be viewed in perspective with the overall basket of services being provided by the vendor. One can get a good idea about pricing competitiveness when one speaks to multiple vendors. In addition, if possible, getting an understanding of the price-point from other outsourcers can provide good insights.
oWorkers offers transparent pricing, often allowing clients the choice between a rate per unit of time and a rate per unit of output. Choose any!
Responsiveness, quick turnaround
We live in a 24×7 world. Most BPO providers run 24×7 operations. This can drastically reduce turnaround times and enhance competitiveness. The partner gets image annotation data when you finish work for the day. They work on it through the night and the output is ready for your business as soon as you begin work the following day.
oWorkers operates from three global locations and runs a 24×7 operation. If your business will benefit from a 24×7 turnaround, we will be happy to offer that to you.
Width of coverage
We have already seen the wide application of image annotation solutions across industries. Prior experience of handling image annotation projects for others in the same industry would be a useful experience to have, since competitors typically have similar requirements.
Experience of different types of image annotation techniques is also a useful experience for a vendor.
With oWorkers you get a team proficient in common image annotation techniques like Bounding boxes, Polygonal Segmentation, Semantic Segmentation, 3D cuboids, LIDAR segmentation, Key-point and Landmarking and Line Annotation.
Global businesses require global solutions. One aspect of globalisation is language. People in different parts of the world rely on different languages to communicate. If you are a global business, or hoping to be one, it will be helpful to sign a vendor who has multilingual capability, so that you don’t go shopping for another one when you need the same support in another language.
When you train and validate your ML (Machine Learning) model with us, what you get is an experienced image annotation services company offering multilingual managed human annotators spread across three global locations and covering 20 + languages.
Current technology with data security
While meeting all technology standards and requirements, the vendor should be using advanced and specialized tools for image annotation. This helps to ensure that data management and image annotation processes meet international quality standards.
The technology architecture should be transparent and ensure that there are no weak areas which could create the possibility of data being compromised.
With a slew of partnerships with the best tools for image annotation, oWorkers offers cutting-edge technology for your projects. If you’d rather use your own tools, we will be happy to train our resources and work with them just as well.
Our ISO (27001 and 9001) certification mandates that our staff sign and operate under an NDA 9non disclosure agreement) and work in monitored facilities with strict security protocols.
Physical separation of workspaces for different projects is provided with the help of access control.
Value added services
When you outsource image annotation you take an important step in freeing up your business from non-core activities, allowing your employees to focus on their jobs. Each business process is inextricably linked to many others that come before or after or alongside. If the vendor has the capability of taking on some of them, it could free your resources up even more. Examples of such processes in context of image annotation would be data entry, data analysis, data cleaning, image editing and image enrichment.
These processes vary from client to client and project to project. oWorkers has taken on additional processes where both parties have gained. We remain flexible and open to such discussions.
Outsourcers will rely on the provider for ensuring there is an adequate supply of trained resources to do their work. While not a core activity for outsourcers, image annotation solutions are a core activity for the provider. One way of demonstrating this to an outsourcer is the ability to scale up and down without asking the outsourcer to bear the cost of idle resources when requirement is low just for the purpose of having enough when the requirement is high.
oWorkers is a respected member of the communities it operates in and remains an employer of choice for many people. Our staff consistently rate us highly on Glassdoor. We offer the flexibility of ramping up by 100 resources in 48 hours.
Change management and project management
Business is dynamic. There are changes taking place every minute that impact our business. When you outsource image annotation to a vendor it should not reduce your flexibility to react to such changes and protect our business. Hence, it is important that the partner commit to flexibility in the relationship as and when required.
oWorkers operates on established principles of Change Management and is able to support changes that are required. In addition, its Project Management approach to each client engagement ensures that there is a key person available to you at all times, who will own and implement tasks that are communicated and agreed.
Organisational stability and support
It should be established that the provider has a reasonably secure financial position. An unstable financial position can often trigger financial adventures that will normally not be for the benefit of client projects. In addition, all the earlier factors will be irrelevant if the project is not supported by the management.
oWorkers is a locally registered business in all its delivery locations. It has a management team with years of BPO experience behind them and are hands-on leaders, likely to be participating in many of the regular interactions that take place between client and vendor during the life of such an engagement as the provision of image annotation solutions.
The oWorkers Advantage
Your partnership with us for our image annotation services will bring positive social and economic change through employment in underserved communities, as well as usher motivated individuals into the global digital economy.
We are a pure player, specialising in Data and Content services with multilingual capability. Our delivery centers are located in three global locations providing the benefit of business contingency in times of need. We are necessarily GDPR compliant as one of our centers operates from the Eurozone.
We work with hired staff, which is one of the reasons we are able to provide flexibility to clients. All our workforce remains prepared to work from home when required.
Our BPO services offer cost savings upto 80% as compared to Western Europe and USA without any compromise on the quality of output. As a result, we have been a trusted partner of several UNICORN marketplaces over the years.