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

DemoCampToronto13 – Tonight!

It’s that time again – DemoCampToronto13 will be running tonight at “No Regrets” on Mowatt St. (King and Dufferin area). It starts at 6:30 and goes until the last TorCamper leaves (demos/talks etc. usually run about 2 hours). Get all the details on the wiki.

Looks like a good line-up…. Be sure to get there early, DemoCamp12 was literally packed to the rafters so unless you want to stand for a few hours be there by 6’ish.

Unfortunately I’m going to miss it as it’s my turn to take the kid to swimming and considering I missed the last two classes due to traveling I can’t really skip this one – look forward to hearing the reports though.

In San Francisco – Meetup tonight…

Just a quick note, I’m out in San Francisco this week at the Gilbane SF show, where Clay Tablet will be exhibiting. As a result my posting will ike ly be sparse this week.

That said:

1. If you’re in SF and interested a handful of us (BarCamp types) are meeting up tonight at the Bar at the “Thirsty Bear“. We’re meeting around 7pm in the bar area. Haven’t been to a BarCamp before? No Problem! Come out anyways, this is just an informal get together of geeks – everyone is welcome. If you’re on Facebook the meetup details can be found here.

2. If you can’t make it out tonight but want to catch up drop me an email – I’ll be here until Thursday night.

3. Last but not least, if you’re at the show stop by the booth and say hi!

– Ryan

Photo: pbo31

VizThink: Because VisualThinkingCamp was getting too long

For a few weeks now I’ve been gradually getting nudged (pushed, prodded, poked, dragged) by local TorCamper Mark Kuznicki to organize a Visual Thinking “Camp”. At first the notion was to put it on as a true BarCamp type of unconference and make a full day of out of it. But in all honesty, it sounded like a lot more work than I had time for and I’m not sure it would be quite the right format to get things kicked off.

So, after some pondering and discussion the plan is now to try and make this a semi-regular evening event (depending on interest) in a DemoCamp meets DesignSlam kind of format. Some of you might be asking “So what is it?”

Viz Think is intended to be a vehicle for the community to meet, learn and discuss the ideas around the notion of Visual Thinking. Ideally this type of session will give people the tools they need to express themselves in new ways regardless of artistic ability.

Each event will consist of an interactive presentation at the beginning followed by discussion and finally breakout groups where participants can work together to work through each others ideas/issues/challenges.

The first VizThink will take place on Tuesday, February 27, 2007 starting at 6:30pm for all the details, or to register (it’s free) visit the VizThink Wiki

DemoCamp12: A Return to Fine Form

DemoCamp had started to run the risk of becoming a victim of its own success – the premise of a captive audience of 100+ geeks hunkered in a room had started to result in demos that were less about “sharing” and more about “promoting”. With impeccible timing December came, and gave the guys the perfect opportunity to take a month off and reconsider/re-vector DemoCamp to try and bring it back on course.

Triumphant Return
Well, after a couple month’s “hiatus” DemoCamp returned to Toronto last night in as fine a form as I’ve ever seen it. Through a little polite invitation, arm twisting, and rumoured cat-napping Dave, Jay & Joey rounded up three compelling and varied demos to share with the community. Mixed in throughout the evening were some quick updates from past DemoCampers.

Overall the crowd seemed to respond well to the new crop of demos, despite a bit of an ad-hoc sound setup (and unusually flaky wireless connection).

The Demos

On tap for DemoCamp12 were:

  1. FlockWill Pate
  2. Open Source and Education: Teaching Mozilla DevelopmentDave Humphrey
  3. BubbleShare v2.0Albert Lai

Dave actually stepped up to the plate first and shared some of the projects his students had been working on in conjunction with the Mozilla Development effort. Not a true demo to speak of but a great example of how open source development gives just about anyone an opportunity to contribute to a community project and have a real impact, regardless of age & experience.

Second up was Albert Lai from BubbleShare – he quickly ran through a couple of their newer features in the latest iteration of BubbleShare but, based on a show of hands, he went with the crowd’s interests and spent more time covering his recent sale to Kaboose, as well as some of the lessons he’d learned and approaches he’d explored with his team over the past couple of years as he brought BubbleShare to market.

Last but not least, Will Pate shared the Flock browser with the group. Will is a newcomer here in Toronto following a stint out on the West Coast working with the Flock team. Flock is another web browser based off the Firefox codebase. It extends functionality over a traditional browser in several areas including a more comprehensive search toolbar, as well as direct integrations to photo sharing sites, and RSS Newsfeeds. Definitely worth a look.

A Tale of Two Venues
This DemoCamp also marked a return to No Regrets as a venue. At the end of the day it seems a lot of people prefer No Regrets but the challenge is we’re pretty much filling the place to capacity (if not beyond). Socializing afterwards is a lot more fun at No Regrets compared to MaRS (we often lose a lot of people between MaRS & the bar and once we’re at the bar it’s largely a sit-down affair) but the packed space certainly isn’t as comfortable.

My only suggestions to improve things at No Regrets would be 1) Have the bar move the bar stools along the front of the bar to the sides/back of the room – they take up a lot of space and make it really hard for people to get up to the bar. 2) Speaking of the bar, someone needs to remind No Regrets that the TorCamp crowd likes to consume beer. Admittedly they were in a bit of a bind with the Superbowl the night before, but it seems like anytime we’re there it doesn’t take long for the draft taps to start emptying.

Next DemoCamp
I haven’t seen a date for the next Camp yet but I’m sure there will be one sometime in early March. When I see the new date I’ll be sure to post it here.