Idee Soft-Launches Image Search Engine TinEye

Posted on 5/8/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Toronto-based Idée has launched a beta version of the first image search-engine that does not rely on keywords or metadata. Instead, TinEye compares user-submitted images with those posted online by using image identification technology.

Idée is a 10-year-old software company that focuses on image identification and visual search. Its image-monitoring service, PixID, is a video and still identification system that helps clients, including Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press, Jupitermedia, Veer, Splash and Abaca, track proprietary content in print and online. Though its competitor PicScout has long-term contracts with the majority of leading stock-licensing companies, Idée's Web site boldly claims that its visual-search technology is "the most widely adopted solution in the stock-image industry."

In addition to monitoring, Idée licenses its technology to companies in a number of industries. Popular social network Digg employs Idée's Piximilar to eliminate duplicate image submissions, while Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and Masterfile Web site's SimSearch function use it to facilitate searches for similar images within a collection.

TinEye is the first Web-wide application of the same image-identification algorithms, supported by Amazon Web Services' platform that ensures scalability. Launched in an invitation-only beta, TinEye has already indexed over 500 million images. It crawls the Web, indexing multimedia content based on each piece's individual digital signature or "fingerprint." According to the company, the search-engine is sophisticated enough to recognize digitally altered images, such as those that have been cropped, color-corrected and retouched to add or remove objects.

Anyone who has used Google image search knows the limitations of relying on file names as the only identifying element. Though substantially more sophisticated, search technologies used by most stock-image companies also rely on a textual component, using words to describe images. Idée's technology cuts that step out, promising a greater level of search relevance for those starting with a specific visual.

At press time, Idée has not responded to questions about TinEye's business model or potential effects on image licensing. It is unclear whether TinEye will be openly accessible, pay-for-service or ad-supported. Whatever the cost, the new search engine has the potential to be particularly useful for solo photographers and small stock agencies unable to develop or afford enterprise-level image-monitoring solutions.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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