Silly Saturday #40. Explore, Examine, Discover using Google’s “Search by Image”.

18 06 2011

This week Google launched “Search by Image”.

Google already offered the possibility to search for certain characteristics like color, size, faces, or license-free images. See for instance this fabulous search of  “sea stars” limited to pink (never knew such sea stars exist).

But now Google also allows search by image. If you found an image that you’re curious about, you can start to “explore, examine and discover”. Thus you can use an image as a search query. You can drag and drop photos from the web or from your desktop, into the search box, you can upload photos or you can use a Chrome extension for this. Google will return results that show you where that image, and similar images, appear on the web.

Just go to

On the same day that I read about this new tool @JoBrody asked at Twitter:

Anyone know this plant? Thank you 🙂 RT @JoBrodie: My mate Yasmin’s wondering what plant this is – any suggestions?
(The photo is at the left)

I retweeted the message to my followers, so they could help too.  I thought that it was blaasjeskruid in Dutch, but @nadineboke immediately answered it was blaasjessilene or Silene vulgaris.

She referred to the Wikipedia entry of Silene vulgaris, with pictures clearly resembling the photo of Jo Brodie’s friend.

Now, since I had just learned about Images by Google, I checked Google Images in the meantime. I uploaded Yasmin’s photo to and got this as result.

Hmpf? No Silene vulgaris appears. Whereas similar photos are on the web (Wikipedia for instance). It is clear that Google just has a broad look at the composition of photo’s and that the distribution of colors is most important. So any whitish item on a green background becomes resembling, even shoes and tigers…. 😉

That was interesting. Besides that Twitter had beaten Google in time, it was also more reliable (no surprise btw).

Since Google has the possibility to search faces, I tried what Images by Google would make of a face. I choose my own photo, which I use as an avatar at Facebook (making it easy for Google because the very same photo is on the web).

Google had no problem in finding the photo at Facebook and (less nice) no problem identifying me on (removed).

But now lets look at the resembling photos. Lets “Explore, examine and discover”.

Ooh yes! Stunning!

I would have never guessed I resembled males, colored people and above all….. Angela Merkel. 😉

To learn more about Search by Image, visit



2 responses

18 06 2011

I’ve been wondering when they would get around to this sort of technology. I’ve been doing word searches in images forever, but it is tedious and I would love to be able to submit an image and find out more. Sounds like it still need tweaking.

1 07 2011
Google- Search by Image « HealthLINE Blog

[…] little Friday fun! When I saw this post on the Laika’s MedLib Blog, I thought, ’so what, Google has had an image search forever’.  But, this is […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: