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Cool Flickr Searching with Retrievr

January 03, 2006

A few years back I remember going to Oracle Developer World in SF and being amazed at some of the interesting search add-ins for what was probably Oracle 7.3.2 at the time. Many of them focused on coming up with the gist of an article, or summarizing it, then allowing you to search on those summaries. This was a pretty cool way of searching for text in longer articles. But what about searching for images? Often you had to enter numerical values to describe an image: 80% blue in the top, green at the bottom. But how do you describe a headshot in numbers or text? A better system would be to compare images and to find similar images, but that means coming up with a sample. Then today I found an extremely cool solution to this at Retrievr. Its got a little drawing surface on the page and you can make simple pictures. Then you wait a few seconds and the search results show up based on pictures in Flickr. Pick the bigger brush and fill the top half with blue and the bottom half with green and you get a number of landscapes and green buildings on blue backgrounds. Draw a smiley face in black and you get a number of b&w headshots. Add some red on the smiley’s head and you get a bunch of Santa head shots. Change it to brown and headshots of people with brown hair show up. This is just wickedly cool.

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