Cloud Computing: Google Search by Image on the Desktop Passes Eye Test With Hiccups

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-06-23
 
 
 

Starting Up

Users can access Search by Image by clicking the camera icon from the Google Images landing page.

Starting Up

Test Run

Note Google's instruction on the landing page above to drag and drop an image into the search box. We tried it out on the image of the Greek island of Santorini and got the results you see here. Note the cluster of similar images.

Test Run

Random Blog Post

Next I grabbed the image from the next story in my RSS reader, which happened to be this AllThingsDigital piece about Dan Roth, whom LinkedIn just hired from Time. Google Image Search recalled the latest news and related pics. The pics are related in that they are profile pics similar to the one I included of Roth.

Random Blog Post

ESPN

Just like Goggles, Image Search retrieves the best results for photos that have related content already on the Web. So it seems to make sense that you couldn't go wrong using this basketball photo from ESPN.com. Turns out Google needed a little help, suggesting the use of a "descriptive word in the search box." To us, adding words defeats the purpose.

ESPN

Image Uploads

Google also lets you upload a photo in case dragging and dropping an image is not an option. Lots of people have plenty of image files on their computers. We're no different. Click the camera to try it.

Image Uploads

First Step

First we uploaded a photo by clicking "upload" to choose a file, as you see here.

First Step

Second Step

Then we tried this common Web stock photo of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Success! Search by Image analyzes an image to find its most distinctive points, lines and textures and matches against images on the Web. Clearly, that's what happened here.

Second Step

Curveball

What about images that aren't pervasive on the Web? It gets trickier. We next uploaded this image of the HTC Evo 3D 4G smartphone that we took ourselves for eWEEK.com. Google had a hard time finding relevant content to accommodate the photo. Again, we were asked to add a descriptor. No thanks.

Curveball

Search by URL

Users may also paste an image URL to find more info about it, like so.

Search by URL

Google Wallet Strikes Out

This link search feature needs work. Clearly, it should have recognized the Google Wallet logo and delivered relevant results based on that product.

Google Wallet Strikes Out

Extension Time

Google also makes this Chrome extension for Image Search, which we downloaded in seconds from the Chrome Webstore.

Extension Time

Che Guevara

Again, we grabbed the first link in my RSS feed and found this GigaOm story. Then we right-clicked on the picture like so to search the image using the Chrome extension. Note the search Google with this image option.

Che Guevara

Voila!

Out popped a link to Google's Image Search with the image results we've become accustomed to. Learn more about Che Guevara. Ultimately, all of Google's Image Search options—drag and drop, upload link or photo from computer and Chrome Extension—worked reasonably well. The question we can't answer is whether people will use this feature.

Voila!

Rocket Fuel