IF your work, studies, travels or hobbies require you to do further research, the Google Image Search can be a powerful ally.
Without leaving home, you can find out more about a topic, a person, a place or an object that you are not familiar with. For example, do you know what the word polynya means? If the text description (a stretch of open water surrounded by ice) is not good enough to define the word, an image will do wonders.
Peter Linsley, product manager at Google Image Search says images have a very important place in people’s search tasks. “Today, information doesn’t just come across as text. With Google Image Search, users can find photos, images, drawings, illustrations related to their search. For example, if I search for durian, I get photos of the fruit, the tree, people eating it, and more,” he says.
Linsley also notes that Google Image Search further empowers users by offering filtering tools. “On the Google Image Search site, there are tools on the left panel that many people do not use. When you have many images of the same thing, you can narrow down your search using colour filter or choose only line drawing or clip art or even by resolution.”
If you have an image of a bridge, for example, and you would like to know its name and more, Google also allows users to search by entering an image instead.
“What the search engine will do is take the uploaded image and ‘look’ at the pixels of the image to identify its key points. It may be prominent lines, shapes, points, texture or colours which the engine will extract and use to search within its image index to find other similar images.
“This way, users not only get image results but also related text results. Google is constantly looking for ways to get higher quality results for this kind of search,” says Linsley.
Google Image Search is currently best for static objects. “The technology is very good as long as it does not move or change shape. In terms of face recognition, your face changes shape when you smile or talk, so it may not perform as well as when you search for buildings, landmarks or things. But the engine’s algorithm is designed to look at any image and match the key points with other images, so if a face is well-documented, for example the face of Brad Pitt, it can still deliver quality image results.
Linsley also highlights Google Goggle, a mobile app that allows users to search using images from feature phones or smartphones. The app can recognise up to three items at a time and is best used to find out more about landmarks, logo, artwork, products and bar or QR codes.Siti Syameen Md Khalili