Monday, March 24, 2008


So I had been wondering for awhile when I would be able to search for an image from an existing image that I already had, when I could upload an image to find its creator/origin, or when I could sketch out something and have an image-finder recognize it and pair it up with whatever seemed closest. The device isn't perfect by any means, in fact not even close, but the beginning stages are here in the first of its kind that I've seen: Retrievr, a Flickr-based image-recognizing search engine.

The idea is that you can sketch out a picture (in color, even), and Retrievr does a scan of Flickr images to match, in size, shape, and color, the sketch that you have created. You can also upload an image and find images that match yours, as closely as possible.

Now, clearly, it has a ways to go. The return images are sometimes not even close to the initial sketch, and, as a Flickr member, I should be able to load an image that I have in my photo archives, and, if it is scanning Flickr, then it SHOULD, in theory, be able to find my EXACT photo, something that I have had no luck with thusfar. It does, however, match the colors quite closely, if you use the sketch color palette. Flickr is also utilizing a smart tool, which is storing, rating, and using your created sketches [they each get their own url, too!] to better their matching.

One thing I would like to see here: a more structured list of results, like Amazon, where a query search returns a list of items, each one having another subcategory of items under it [i.e. "see the other 173 items like this," etc.]. Another thing I would like to see, of course, is this company (or ANY company doing this type of image-search) not limiting the results just to Flickr or to any one site. I want something that encompasses the entire expansive world of the Intertubez... is that so much to ask?

I hope that the awesome folks over a Google are looking at making something similar like this to be able to find images on the web; with their extensive and quite accurate search engines, I'm sure they could come up with something perfectly genius. Hint hint.