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The blog post on features...
Hard at play in Google Labs with Similar Images and Google News Timeline [googleblog.blogspot.com]
In the interest of keeping discussions separate, I'll dedicate this thread to the Similar Images feature. The blog post provides a short video intro to Similar Images, or you can play with the interface directly....
The Similar Images interface allows you to search for images by name, and, once you've found an image you like, to click the "similar images" link to find more images that resemble the image you selected. So [Paris] is France or Hilton, [Jaguar] is the car or the cat, etc.
The search considers a combination of meta data and image analysis. Results are amazingly good, but not perfect.
To check out the image analysis by itself, I tried searching by the name of a former Life magazine photographer whose work is all in black and white, and areas of light and dark were initially big factors in what similar images were returned. I could keep refining the search, though, just with the "similar" link, until Similar Images zeroed in on multiple copies of the same photo.
The feature doesn't yet appear to have been integrated into regular image search, but runs as a subdomain under Labs.