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Visual Search Engines

What's out there?



10:21 pm on May 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

While I've seen an impressive demo of visual search - evisionglobal at Seybold - I wonder if anybody else has seen or implemented visual search technology into any of the media asset management software packages?

For the demo I saw, you select an example image from a visual list or keyword search and the software then returns images based on similar visual properties. So keywords (often poorly assigned) don't preclude good hits, and the hits don't include irrelevant images.

It seems like one effective solution for searching stock photography quickly.

Has anybody seen anything other then evisionglobal's software?


jeremy goodrich

1:27 pm on May 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jeremy_goodrich is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'm not familiar with this kind of technology. I'll see if I can find something today for you, but from what you are describing, this product sounds like it could be incredible. Also hard to develop.


4:28 pm on May 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hey MeistersSinger, thanks for the tip. I checked out the evisionglobal.com web site and tried out their demo. It was definitely impressive, but a pretty limited set of images to test with. I found another from IBM (qbic.almaden.ibm.com) but it looks more like a research product than a commercial one.
evision has a demo toolkit which I signed up for. It is Java-based (as is their online demo - a servlet) so it should be fairly easy to code up some examples. If this does indeed work (even just a little bit) it should greatly facilitate searching for stock photography.


4:31 pm on May 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sounds a little like the altavista technology. The description is here [altavista.com]

For an example try an image search for horse. The results are quite impressive

(now if I can just find a shameless plug forum I can get my money from AltaVista)


7:48 pm on May 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

I checked the alta vista search. Is this up yet?

The tutorial says that the results list will have a "similar" option which "generates a results page containing images that are visually similar to the selected image as well as pages with content that matches your search. Similarity is based on visual characteristics such as dominant colors, shapes and textures."

But I couldn't get that option, so I'm guessing that this visual search is either still in the works, or I'm doing something wrong...


8:22 am on May 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You need to be using AltaVista.com, not a regional version. A search for horse will bring an item (3across,3down) with the <similar> option.


4:32 pm on May 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

Yeah, but what's important here is to turn off the "family filter" and wait a couple of minutes (for some reason).

Having family filter on prevents the "similar" option.

It's interesting, but I think they're only matching similar color histograms - kind of crude. I did a "similar" search on an eagle, and got results with similar color distribution, but that's about it. It's a visual search, but doesn't seem to use shape or texture, only relative color proportion.

The evisionglobal demo I saw ranks so far.


4:46 pm on Jun 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

I checked out AltaVista's image search, using the "similar" option. It's a cool idea, though I found it kind of weak, like Meistersinger implied.

There's a new article about visual search at [webreference.com...] which talks about this process in-depth. I liked the idea of searching by object regions, which seems to cut through some of the limitations at Altavista.


1:47 am on Jun 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member littleman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Rumor has it that one of the major players will be launching an image db soon.


3:17 am on Jun 19, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hey littleman - can you expound?

Which player, or at least what kind of player? What kind of images? And most pertinent - are they visually searchable?

The webreference article was interesting. Thanks for pointing it out Drury.


7:20 pm on Jun 23, 2001 (gmt 0)

I think the altavista image search (the "visual" think they had) is dead - they got rid of it instead of making it better!

I thought the visual search technology overview at [evisionglobal.com...] was pretty comprehensive. At least I could see object-based visual searching used in databases for things like medical imaging and other fields where there are lots of very similar but still different graph and chart images.

I wonder if something like this could be used as a porn filter too? Sort of the same function, but backwards...


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