Are your bib numbers not visible? It's time to make way for facial recognition

Tagging photos for bib numbers has been part of a photographers to-do list for years now, and even if you're no longer doing it manually - there might still be cases where this doesn't help with searching photos in the way that you had hoped

Take the below photo for example. Many Obstacle Course Races (OCR) don't use bib numbers, simply because 50% of them will only fall off or get caked in mud!


This is where facial recognition and the ability to search by selfie really comes into it's own. However, there is also a grey area where bib detection can still be hit and miss.

As we see in the below photo, the bib number is obstructed by the runners arm. Is the bib number 2908, or 2906?

Whilst this does not make it a bad photo, it does mean that it's incredibly likely that this runner will never find it.

This is because neither a human or a machine-learning algorithm would be able to confidently say which number it is.


In this article we touched on how bib detection technology certainly helps with photo search, however it's not always perfect - and this is where facial recognition comes in handy.

With Photohawk, we enable Facial Recognition on all galleries by default. This way you can be confident that participants can find their photos - even the ones where their bib numbers were hiding!

Andy Hammond

14 April 2023