Biodata’s Image Filtering seeks school distribution

Biodata’s Image Filtering seeks school distribution

As filtering demands grow, so do the available solutions. Now, image filtering is on its way to market. I-Watch, from Biodata Information Technology (Germany and San Francisco, CA, www.biodata.com) identifies images and symbols. The automated filtering technology was created by Cobion (Kassel, Germany, www.cobion.com), a company recently acquired by Biodata.

Cobion’s supercomputers crawl the Internet round the clock and examine 30 to 50 million pages a day to create and update a database of blocked sites. Biodata claims to have the world’s largest black list of offensive websites. Eric Goldberg, U.S. general manager of Biodata, says that contextual clues give the software a high enough degree of precision to, say, distinguish between a pornography site and an art site (at least to the degree that humans are able to resolve that debate). In that example, image features such as skin tone or the percentage of an image taken by certain body parts, as well as surrounding images on the site, can allow the software to distinguish between approved and disapproved images.

I-Watch is distributed as a component of Biodata’s firewall products. Biodata Sphinx 2.0 firewall is a $50 software product sold in consumer markets; Biodata BIGfire, a hardware product, sells for $5,500. Biodata plans to bring the firewall/filtering package to the global school market. The company is well established as a global provider of network, PC and communications technology with offices in 17 countries and a presence in 70 countries through resellers. Their U.S. office is their most recent. Outside of the U.S., many partnerships are already in place with schools to quickly bring I-Watch to market. And because many European countries make filtering of hate sites a priority, demand is high.

For the U.S., the company is currently in negotiations with companies that specialize in the “last hundred feet” of telecommunications infrastructure. Goldberg adds that Biodata is open to new distribution partners. Cobion’s technology is applied to markets other than filtering. It can, for example, be used to search the web for trademark infringement. A new feature on the drawing board will give users the ability to scan an intranet for inappropriate images.

Beyond the essentials of a firewall and filtering, BigFire also has a “learn mode” that is likely to be of interest to educators. When turned on, this feature details precisely what technical activities are happening online and allows the user to learn how the web works.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Nelson B. Heller & Associates

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group