TinEye is an impressively fast, and well-working image comparison search engine ” you provide either an image URL or image on your hard disk, and then they will show similar images.
While they dont yet have enough images indexed to show a lot of results ” and often, there wont be any result at all even when you know the image exists online ” this is still a very interesting engine, and already useful for certain types research. (Its also the kind of product where you wonder, Why doesnt Google release this?)
Searching for the Google logo…
Ive asked Ide Inc, the company behind this, what people might want to use their search for, and heres what they say:
Research: searching for an image that you dont know the origin of, or have limited information about. Being able to review pages where an image appears often yields information about the image. (…)
Education: searching for high resolution images to illustrate an essay when all you have is a low resolution image
Vanity searches: tracking where your images are appearing online
Professional photographers and illustrators: finding out where their images are appearing online not for copyright infringement but to find how their images are being used. As you probably know, photographers very rarely get tearsheets that show them how their images ended up being used and where
Copyright infringement monitoring: this is straight forward, where are my images, and are they being used in compliance with their license terms
Product searches: I have a photograph of a product and I need to find out more about it (we have indexed all of Amazons CD and book covers and we are in the process of indexing the entire set of Amazon product images)
Brand monitoring: finding out where your brand images are online and how used they are
Mobile applications that we will release in fall but are not currently prepared to discuss.
Ide Inc say they basically see their engine as answering the where and how of image search ” where is a particular image appearing, and how is it being used.
The TinEye creators also write that they currently crawl up to 200 million images per month. At the core of their site is a so-called image fingerprinting algorithm. It works not only with identical images, but also pics that contain just a part of another image. TinEye thinks their technology is a major breakthrough and also quite secret. We believe we are the only firm able to do this at the scale that we do. TinEye expect to go open for everyone in the third quarter this year; right now, you can request an invite at their site.