Last week i had dinner at a friend's house and they had one of there friends over as well. He was telling us about the company he is working at Riya which i was familiar with but never really used it beyond the time i first looked at it. Riya just got covered on TechCrunch for a new service called Like.com that "takes both text and images as queries, something no one else does. To return results based on an image query, Like.com compares a visual signature for the query image to possible results. The visual signature is simply a mathematicarepresentationin of the image using 10,000 variables. If enough variables are identical, Like.com decides the images are similar."
I was wearing my trusty cowboy boots as usual that evening and he started telling me how this image search would allow me to find things like i describe them. Pointing at my boots he said -you will run a search for green cowboy boots and you will probably get back an image of those boots. Well i did run a search on green boots cowboy and the first hit was pretty right on as to what they look like- although now i know that they are the 'George Straight' model which means i don't really like my boots that much anymore!
We always get requests from customers for better picture searching. We like many others in the search industry are at the mercy of human added metadata that comes from the information providers (Reuters Picture Service, Knight Ridder etc.) or what is applied on our side. A better search across pictures that are presented in the media would be great for customers that are monitoring news about their products (eg. consumer companies that want to see placement of their products in main stream media).
Next month Like.com will be providing an image uploader which i am guessing will be useful- for example if you want to find something similar to buy as a gift, a replacement etc. Here is a good combination- work this into sites like eBay so when my left foot green cowboy boot is trashed i can upload a picture of the boot and find someone out there with the same pair for sale.
Robert Scoble went searching for 'red strappy shoes' as soon as he got his hands on it.
i like it.