Label images with ML Kit on Android

You can use ML Kit to label objects recognized in an image. The default model provided with ML Kit supports 400+ different labels.

See the ML Kit quickstart sample on GitHub for an example of this API in use.

There are two ways to integrate image labeling: a bundled model which is part of your app and an unbundled model that depends on Google Play Services. The two models are the same. If you select the unbundled model your app will be smaller. See the table below for details.

FeatureUnbundledBundled
ImplementationModel is dynamically downloaded via Google Play Services.Model is statically linked to your at build time.
App sizeNo impact.About 3MB model size.
Initialization timeMight have to wait for model to download before first use.Model is available immediately

Before you begin

  1. In your project-level build.gradle file, make sure to include Google's Maven repository in both your buildscript and allprojects sections.
  2. Add the dependencies for the ML Kit Android libraries to your module's app-level gradle file, which is usually app/build.gradle:

    For bundling the model in your app:

        dependencies {
          // ...
          // Use this dependency to bundle the model with your app
          implementation 'com.google.mlkit:image-labeling:17.0.0'
        }
        

    For using model within Google Play Service:

        dependencies {
          // ...
          // Use this dependency to use dynamically downloaded model in Google Play Service
          implementation 'com.google.android.gms:play-services-mlkit-image-labeling:16.0.0'
        }
        
  3. If you choose to use the Google Play Service way: you can configure your app to automatically download the model to the device after your app is installed from the Play Store. To do so, add the following declaration to your app's AndroidManifest.xml file:

          <application ...>
            ...
          <meta-data
              android:name="com.google.mlkit.vision.DEPENDENCIES"
              android:value="ica" />
          <!-- To use multiple models: android:value="ica,model2,model3" -->
          </application>
        
    If you don't enable install-time model downloads, the model is downloaded the first time you run the labeler. Requests you make before the download has completed produce no results.

Now you are ready to label images.

1. Prepare the input image

Create an InputImage object from your image. The image labeler runs fastest when you use a Bitmap or, if you use the camera2 API, a YUV_420_888 media.Image, which are recommended when possible.

You can create an InputImage from different sources, each is explained below.

Using a media.Image

To create an InputImage object from a media.Image object, such as when you capture an image from a device's camera, pass the media.Image object and the image's rotation to InputImage.fromMediaImage().

If you use the CameraX library, the OnImageCapturedListener and ImageAnalysis.Analyzer classes calculate the rotation value for you.

Kotlin

private class YourImageAnalyzer : ImageAnalysis.Analyzer {

    override fun analyze(imageProxy: ImageProxy) {
        val mediaImage = imageProxy.image
        if (mediaImage != null) {
            val image = InputImage.fromMediaImage(mediaImage, imageProxy.imageInfo.rotationDegrees)
            // Pass image to an ML Kit Vision API
            // ...
        }
    }
}

Java

private class YourAnalyzer implements ImageAnalysis.Analyzer {

    @Override
    public void analyze(ImageProxy imageProxy) {
        Image mediaImage = imageProxy.getImage();
        if (mediaImage != null) {
          InputImage image =
                InputImage.fromMediaImage(mediaImage, imageProxy.getImageInfo().getRotationDegrees());
          // Pass image to an ML Kit Vision API
          // ...
        }
    }
}

If you don't use a camera library that gives you the image's rotation degree, you can calculate it from the device's rotation degree and the orientation of camera sensor in the device:

Kotlin

private val ORIENTATIONS = SparseIntArray()

init {
    ORIENTATIONS.append(Surface.ROTATION_0, 0)
    ORIENTATIONS.append(Surface.ROTATION_90, 90)
    ORIENTATIONS.append(Surface.ROTATION_180, 180)
    ORIENTATIONS.append(Surface.ROTATION_270, 270)
}

/**
 * Get the angle by which an image must be rotated given the device's current
 * orientation.
 */
@RequiresApi(api = Build.VERSION_CODES.LOLLIPOP)
@Throws(CameraAccessException::class)
private fun getRotationCompensation(cameraId: String, activity: Activity, isFrontFacing: Boolean): Int {
    // Get the device's current rotation relative to its "native" orientation.
    // Then, from the ORIENTATIONS table, look up the angle the image must be
    // rotated to compensate for the device's rotation.
    val deviceRotation = activity.windowManager.defaultDisplay.rotation
    var rotationCompensation = ORIENTATIONS.get(deviceRotation)

    // Get the device's sensor orientation.
    val cameraManager = activity.getSystemService(CAMERA_SERVICE) as CameraManager
    val sensorOrientation = cameraManager
            .getCameraCharacteristics(cameraId)
            .get(CameraCharacteristics.SENSOR_ORIENTATION)!!

    if (isFrontFacing) {
        rotationCompensation = (sensorOrientation + rotationCompensation) % 360
    } else { // back-facing
        rotationCompensation = (sensorOrientation - rotationCompensation + 360) % 360
    }
    return rotationCompensation
}

Java

private static final SparseIntArray ORIENTATIONS = new SparseIntArray();
static {
    ORIENTATIONS.append(Surface.ROTATION_0, 0);
    ORIENTATIONS.append(Surface.ROTATION_90, 90);
    ORIENTATIONS.append(Surface.ROTATION_180, 180);
    ORIENTATIONS.append(Surface.ROTATION_270, 270);
}

/**
 * Get the angle by which an image must be rotated given the device's current
 * orientation.
 */
@RequiresApi(api = Build.VERSION_CODES.LOLLIPOP)
private int getRotationCompensation(String cameraId, Activity activity, boolean isFrontFacing)
        throws CameraAccessException {
    // Get the device's current rotation relative to its "native" orientation.
    // Then, from the ORIENTATIONS table, look up the angle the image must be
    // rotated to compensate for the device's rotation.
    int deviceRotation = activity.getWindowManager().getDefaultDisplay().getRotation();
    int rotationCompensation = ORIENTATIONS.get(deviceRotation);

    // Get the device's sensor orientation.
    CameraManager cameraManager = (CameraManager) activity.getSystemService(CAMERA_SERVICE);
    int sensorOrientation = cameraManager
            .getCameraCharacteristics(cameraId)
            .get(CameraCharacteristics.SENSOR_ORIENTATION);

    if (isFrontFacing) {
        rotationCompensation = (sensorOrientation + rotationCompensation) % 360;
    } else { // back-facing
        rotationCompensation = (sensorOrientation - rotationCompensation + 360) % 360;
    }
    return rotationCompensation;
}

Then, pass the media.Image object and the rotation degree value to InputImage.fromMediaImage():

Kotlin

val image = InputImage.fromMediaImage(mediaImage, rotation)

Java

InputImage image = InputImage.fromMediaImage(mediaImage, rotation);

Using a file URI

To create an InputImage object from a file URI, pass the app context and file URI to InputImage.fromFilePath(). This is useful when you use an ACTION_GET_CONTENT intent to prompt the user to select an image from their gallery app.

Kotlin

val image: InputImage
try {
    image = InputImage.fromFilePath(context, uri)
} catch (e: IOException) {
    e.printStackTrace()
}

Java

InputImage image;
try {
    image = InputImage.fromFilePath(context, uri);
} catch (IOException e) {
    e.printStackTrace();
}

Using a ByteBuffer or ByteArray

To create an InputImage object from a ByteBuffer or a ByteArray, first calculate the image rotation degree as previously described for media.Image input. Then, create the InputImage object with the buffer or array, together with image's height, width, color encoding format, and rotation degree:

Kotlin

val image = InputImage.fromByteBuffer(
        byteBuffer,
        /* image width */ 480,
        /* image height */ 360,
        rotationDegrees,
        InputImage.IMAGE_FORMAT_NV21 // or IMAGE_FORMAT_YV12
)
// Or:
val image = InputImage.fromByteArray(
        byteArray,
        /* image width */ 480,
        /* image height */ 360,
        rotationDegrees,
        InputImage.IMAGE_FORMAT_NV21 // or IMAGE_FORMAT_YV12
)

Java

InputImage image = InputImage.fromByteBuffer(byteBuffer,
        /* image width */ 480,
        /* image height */ 360,
        rotationDegrees,
        InputImage.IMAGE_FORMAT_NV21 // or IMAGE_FORMAT_YV12
);
// Or:
InputImage image = InputImage.fromByteArray(
        byteArray,
        /* image width */480,
        /* image height */360,
        rotation,
        InputImage.IMAGE_FORMAT_NV21 // or IMAGE_FORMAT_YV12
);

Using a Bitmap

To create an InputImage object from a Bitmap object, make the following declaration:

Kotlin

val image = InputImage.fromBitmap(bitmap, 0)

Java

InputImage image = InputImage.fromBitmap(bitmap, rotationDegree);

The image is represented by a Bitmap object together with rotation degrees.

2. Configure and run the image labeler

To label objects in an image, pass the InputImage object to the ImageLabeler's process method.

  1. First, get an instance of ImageLabeler.

    If you want to use the on-device image labeler, make the following declaration:

Kotlin

// To use default options:
val labeler = ImageLabeling.getClient(ImageLabelerOptions.DEFAULT_OPTIONS)

// Or, to set the minimum confidence required:
// val options = ImageLabelerOptions.Builder()
//     .setConfidenceThreshold(0.7f)
//     .build()
// val labeler = ImageLabeling.getClient(options)

Java

// To use default options:
ImageLabeler labeler = ImageLabeling.getClient(ImageLabelerOptions.DEFAULT_OPTIONS);

// Or, to set the minimum confidence required:
// ImageLabelerOptions options =
//     new ImageLabelerOptions.Builder()
//         .setConfidenceThreshold(0.7f)
//         .build();
// ImageLabeler labeler = ImageLabeling.getClient(options);
  1. Then, pass the image to the process() method:

Kotlin

labeler.process(image)
        .addOnSuccessListener { labels ->
            // Task completed successfully
            // ...
        }
        .addOnFailureListener { e ->
            // Task failed with an exception
            // ...
        }

Java

labeler.process(image)
        .addOnSuccessListener(new OnSuccessListener<List<ImageLabel>>() {
            @Override
            public void onSuccess(List<ImageLabel> labels) {
                // Task completed successfully
                // ...
            }
        })
        .addOnFailureListener(new OnFailureListener() {
            @Override
            public void onFailure(@NonNull Exception e) {
                // Task failed with an exception
                // ...
            }
        });

3. Get information about labeled objects

If the image labeling operation succeeds, a list of ImageLabel objects is passed to the success listener. Each ImageLabel object represents something that was labeled in the image. The base model supports 400+ different labels. You can get each label's text description, index among all labels supported by the model, and the confidence score of the match. For example:

Kotlin

for (label in labels) {
    val text = label.text
    val confidence = label.confidence
    val index = label.index
}

Java

for (ImageLabel label : labels) {
    String text = label.getText();
    float confidence = label.getConfidence();
    int index = label.getIndex();
}

Tips to improve real-time performance

If you want to label images in a real-time application, follow these guidelines to achieve the best framerates:

  • If you use the Camera or camera2 API, throttle calls to the image labeler. If a new video frame becomes available while the image labeler is running, drop the frame. See the VisionProcessorBase class in the quickstart sample app for an example.
  • If you use the CameraX API, be sure that backpressure strategy is set to its default value ImageAnalysis.STRATEGY_KEEP_ONLY_LATEST. This guarantees only one image will be delivered for analysis at a time. If more images are produced when the analyzer is busy, they will be dropped automatically and not queued for delivery. Once the image being analyzed is closed by calling ImageProxy.close(), the next latest image will be delivered.
  • If you use the output of the image labeler to overlay graphics on the input image, first get the result from ML Kit, then render the image and overlay in a single step. This renders to the display surface only once for each input frame. See the CameraSourcePreview and GraphicOverlay classes in the quickstart sample app for an example.
  • If you use the Camera2 API, capture images in ImageFormat.YUV_420_888 format. If you use the older Camera API, capture images in ImageFormat.NV21 format.

Next steps