A look into the TinEye…

Years ago, the introduction of Google Image search changed the way you looked for pictures online. Before Google Images you were forced to search for web pages, find a result and then hope it had a picture on it that you could use.

Lather. Rinse. Pray. Repeat.
Often you would come up empty handed. It was hard enough when you were looking for a picture that fit your keywords (i.e. trying to find a piece of stock photography etc.)

But what about when you have a specific picture and want to find more information out about it? Where else is it used, who’s is it, has it been photoshopped? The list goes on. How do you describe the picture to Google in a way that would allow you to find its source?

Describing a random image to an image search site using only words is a crap shoot at best. Sure you might luck into the exact keywords that somene else used to describe the picture but there’s still a very good chance that you’ll have to wade through dozens upon dozens of search results to find the needle in the haystack.

Enter TinEye.
TinEye is the latest release from Toronto’s Idée. Idée is easily, and inexplicably, one of Toronto’s best kept tech secrets. Building cutting edge image search and recognition tools for close to ten years partners Leila Boujnane & Paul Bloore have built an impressive company that works with some of the world’s largest media & creative organizations. Their other products, PixID and Piximilar, both caused jaws to drop when demoed and there’s a good chance you’ve unknowingly used their technology in the past (i.e. Digg uses Idée’s technology to watch for duplicate image submissions).

So What is TinEye?
Basically, it’s an image search engine that uses images as it’s query: give it an image and it will tell you where the image appears on the web.

Idee put together this quick video with Amber MacArthur that is a great introduction:

A Real Word Example
The video gives a great introduction but let me take a moment to put the technology in some real world context for you:

A few weeks ago my friend Sean Howard twittered:

With a link to this image:

Now ordinarily this could suck up hours of time querying Google images etc., hoping to land on a page with this image…

Instead I right-clicked on it, selected “Search this image on TinEye” and in the span of mere seconds I had multiple results, the first of which took me to a page that had more information about who created the work.


Total time from Sean asking to me being able to respond was less than five minutes (and it only took that long because I had to look up my Tineye password!)

Right now, their system is indexing just shy of half a BILLION images but that number is steadily growing. TinEye is in limited BETA but I was able to score a few invites for my readers. If you’d like to play with TinEye drop me an email at first.last@gmail.com or message me on twitter (ryancoleman) with your email address and I’ll get you an invite.

BTW: The image is by a team of artists know as “eboy

What Happens if I Push This?

Every once in a while I encounter an icon/sign that makes me chuckle – here’s the latest:

"What happens if I push this?"

Of course what they intend to convey is “Push button for assistance/information” but all I can see when I look at it is “What happens if I push this?”

(the answer appears to be a) someone yells at you b) it makes a noise)

First Day: Jumping in with Both Feet at VizThink

So today is Day 1 at VizThink and Tom decided to start out by throwing me right into the fire with a “Welcome” podcast:

Hint: Use the Full Screen Button to see this video in greater detail.

You may also download the audio here…

MP3 Audio File

Source: VizThink Blog

I think it turned out alright – I’m really excited to finally have full days to start processing this stuff and getting the community side of VizThink rolling. Expect to see a lot of activity over the next 30-60 days as we start to roll out the community platform on our site and as more cities start to hold their own events as well.

There’s also some spots left for the VizThink workshops with dave Gray and Karl Gude – May 2 in NYC & May 7 in Chicago Go here for details.

If you want to be kept in the loop I suggest any or all of the following sources:

VizThink Blog: http://vizthink.com/blog
VizThink on Twitter: http://twitter.com/vizthink
Subscribe to the Mailing List through the VizThink homepage (right sidebar): http://VizThink.com

If you’re interested in getting something going locally by all means drop me a line at rcoleman [at] vizthink. You can also follow me on twitter or add me on Facebook.

– Ryan