Amenity Detection and Beyond — New Frontiers of Computer Vision at Airbnb

Build highly customized AI technologies into home-sharing products and help our guests belong anywhere.

Shijing Yao
The Airbnb Tech Blog
15 min readJul 16, 2019

--

Authors: Shijing Yao, Dapeng Li, Shawn Chen

What amenities are there in this image? Can an algorithm detect them all? How can we train the algorithm effectively? If you are interested in the answers, please read on!

Introduction

In 2018, we published a blog post titled Categorizing Listing Photos at Airbnb. In that post, we introduced an image classification model which categorized listing photos into different room types and helped organize hundreds of millions of listing photos on the Airbnb platform. Since then, the technology has been powering a wide range of internal content moderation tools, as well as some consumer-facing features on the Airbnb website. We hope such an image classification technology makes our business more efficient, and our products more pleasant to use.

Image Classification is a sub-field of a broader technology called Computer Vision, which deals with how computer algorithms can be made to gain understandings of digital images or videos. Another related sub-field is Object Detection, which deals with detecting instances of semantic objects of a certain class in digital images or videos.

Airbnb has millions of listings worldwide. To make sure our listings uphold high standards of quality, we need to determine whether the amenities advertised online match the actual ones. At our scale, using only human efforts to do so is obviously neither economical nor sustainable. Object Detection technologies, however, can lend us a helping hand, as amenities can be automatically detected in listing photos. Furthermore, the technology opens a new door to a home sharing platform where listing photos are searchable by amenities, which helps our guests navigate through listings much more easily.

Amenity Detection

From Generic to Customized Solutions

Object Detection technologies evolve rapidly. Just a few years ago, the idea to build an object detection model to detect amenities in a digital picture might sound prohibitively difficult and intimidating. Nowadays, a great number of decent solutions have already emerged, some of which require minimal efforts. For example…

--

--

Shijing Yao
The Airbnb Tech Blog

Global Nomad, Ex-Staff Machine Learning Scientist @ Airbnb