Google has introduced a new experimental refinement tool that lets you click a “similar images” link beneath image search results and see a new screen of images with similar color, shape and other visual elements. The new tool has been released in Google Labs and isn’t yet available in standard image search results.
The similar images refinement is the latest in a series of tools Google has introduced to make image searching easier and more precise. These refinements include an a face filter, “exact size” filter, search suggestions and a color picker.
Image search is “harder” than text search, because true computer vision isn’t anywhere near as developed as text-based search and retrieval. The new search by similarity feature combines both analysis of images for things like color, shape, texture and so on with tagging and other techniques.
Google’s not the first to launch a similar images feature. In December last year, Microsoft added a “show similar images” capability to Live search.
Some other sites that let you search based on image similarity include Like.com, a shopping site that lets you visually compare products, Polar Rose, which detects and matches the faces in your Flickr photos and Tin Eye, a site that lets you upload an image as your query rather than typing in search terms.
Want to know more about computer based image retrieval? See my Teaching Google To See Images from April of last year.