Friday, November 20, 2009

Google Image Swirl - Great way to do Image Search

A couple of days ago Google launched a new way of viewing images, the Image Swirl. Still in Beta phase, it attempts to collect groups of related images together, presenting them in clusters. The user selects a cluster of interest, which then expands into it's one circle, still connected to previous 'higher' circles on the tree. In this way you dive down into ever more specific types of images. Concept shown below for the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the opening screen showing the main image clusters:

Screenshot of Eiffel Tower top part of Swirl

And then, several steps in showing the expanded, yet still linked, sub sets of images of the Eiffel Tower. Eventually you get to single images which then link to the sites they are placed in. This reminds me a bit of diving into fractal images, but is, naturally, of much more immediate use.

Eiffel Tower - several steps into the Swirl.

It is a much more relaxing and playful way of looking for images than a straight image search.
The rationale and background blurb, taken from the Google Blog, states:
  • 'Back in 2001, to give people a new, quicker way to find images, we launched Image Search. When you do a search for [eiffel tower] you'll find an array of images of the tower in the daytime, in black and white, at sunset and more. With Similar Images, which recently graduated from Google Labs, you can click "Find similar images" to narrow your search to, say, pictures of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. Today, we've launched an experimental feature in Labs called Google Image Swirl, which builds on new computer vision research to cluster similar images into representative groups in a fun, exploratory interface.'

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