Tiltomo: a visual search engine
For now, the site is a proof-of-concept. The creators have pre-loaded the site with two databases of more than 280,000 images from Flickr (using Flickr's API). Users can search for images that are related by theme or subjects, or images with like color or texture. From the site's about page:
Our aim is to develop a Visual Search tool that makes it easier to find the images you like. Our approach is to allow free thinking, where search results are influenced by what you see. Our system encourages you to make a broad search and narrow the types of images you like. It's as simple as searching a keyword, then clicking the image you like. to see more. We feel this way of searching allows you to follow your own creative path, and find images that you might not normally look for.
We have been trading emails with the developers over the past couple of days. They explain the concept further thusly:
Our research has shown that most people look at images using three criteria. In order of importance, these are Color, Texture and in some situations Shape. Our Visual Search calculates separately both Color & Texture in varying amounts to determine what we call "Visually Similar." "Visually Similar" can be very subjective. For this reason we have two Visual Search modes. The first is "100% Color / Texture"; this matches images that are "similar in terms of only Color / Texture. Our second mode "Theme" uses Color / Texture and also takes Visual Context into consideration. This mode is most likely to match images that have a Visual / Contextual relationship.
The developers say that they see the technology being useful for "Consumer Image Sites, Stock Photo Libraries, Home Image Management Software. In fact anywhere a user needs to find a particular type of image that's hidden amongst a crowd." Indeed, we've already seen this type of concept used at sites such as iStockphoto, where you can search for images with similar colors.
There is other stuff in the works, including a Firefox plug-in that will allow "the user to visually search any image he/ she finds on the web against another image database."
So who's behind Tiltomo? We wish we knew. The developers have coyly refused to reveal themselves to us. If anyone knows, feel free to speak up.
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