Image-based Search Utility

November 27, 2008

Image-based Search Utility
~James Dunn

Yahoo and Google need to maintain a technological edge to maintain their user base, and advertisers.

A picture can be loosely described by colors used, pixel positioning, and literally more than 1000 unique graphic qualities; most of which are NOT related to graphic media size, or orientation. Many of these identifiers can be calculated extremely quickly.

For instance: Each picture has a number of pixels for its width and height, divide each number by 10 and sample the pixels at those positions. The color information at each of those positions is largely unique for complex pictures. You could take 100 million photographs and never repeat this combination. So any picture on the Internet with that information is strongly related.

There are thousands of related processing techniques to identify shapes like circles and lines, shading, human features, animal features, … A select set of these techniques would allow for finding with strong confidence related pictures.

Similar types of image processing is used in robotics.

If a person had a picture, let’s say of a water wheel. They could upload their picture to the Search Engine and then the server could look for likely hits; similar to looking for text hits.

Anytime someone would look at graphic media through Google or Yahoo, the graphic media would automatically be processed and a list of unique identifiers cataloged along with the graphic data. The person looking to find related graphic information could choose the level of similarity, and also include text that might be found on the same web page to increase the probability of getting a related hit.

Also, whenever a picture is included in a web page, the Google or Yahoo toolbar could be configured to find related graphic media on the Internet just by clicking on a picture that you are looking at.

Artists could find where their work was inappropriately copied. Pedophile content could be easily found and removed/blocked. People could find their long lost friends and relatives. Criminals might even be found.

Someone breaks into your house and your security camera gets a picture of them. They have a profile on Yahoo. You search for a picture of the burglar and find the profile. You give the information to the police for them to investigate. It could be just someone that looks similar, or it could be the burglar.

Using this method of searching would allow Google and Yahoo to help hold onto the technological edge for their search engines.

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