Google Search By Image

A month or so ago a colleague asked me:

Have you seen the new “Search By Image” functionality that Google have introduced?

I had to admit that I hadn’t and was then blown away by the enormity of such a simple tool.

It is only now that I come to use the tool in anger for the umpteenth time that I realise that this is definitely something worth sharing with the world.

I’ve always been a fan of Google’s image search, it must be years since I looked at an alternative (like  I used to scour image search for base images to alter for icons and graphics in software or for decent images to shop into something funny for sites like B3ta.

This new feature turns image searching on its head.

Instead of just searching for and image you can now search the internet using the image itself as search criteria.  Fantastic!

Take this link as an example; I spotted an image whilst reading somebody’s blog and decided I wanted to see if I could find more about the product.

I’ve copied and pasted the URL of the image into the “search by image” search box and Google brings back possible matches.

Not only does it bring back a list of possible web links but also visually similar images.

I may be overstating it but the possibilities for this are huge.

I occasionally try to track down my old German pen friend, who I haven’t spoken to for over 20 years.

I could try to use pictures of him to help in the search – although Google will probably have to put some kind of face matching/recognition algorithm into it.

Maybe I’ll see a poster for a product or brand; I can snap a picture with my phone and then upload the image to the “Search By Image” page and find out about it.

Who are all these people?Of course, the technology isn’t perfect.

When I search for my Gravatar image, I get a whole string of matches to pages where I have used that avatar image, but the visually similar images leave something to be desired… I mean one of those people look like Stephen Merchant for Cliff’s sake.


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