Google refines picture search

Similar Images goes mainstream

An overhaul of Google Images could help web designers locate relevant graphics at speed.

Similar Images, which was introduced to Google Labs in April 2009, is now being rolled out to the company's main picture search engine. Users who type in keywords will be presented with the usual search engine results pages (SERPs) but below some pictures will be a link entitled 'Find similar images'.

Selecting this option restricts results to those with a "visual similarity", meaning web designers can access a repository of highly relevant images. These search results can then be further refined to show only those with, say, a wide aspect ratio and a commercial usage licence.

Similar Images in action

Erik Murphy-Chutorian and Chuck Rosenberg, software engineers at Google, suggested users type in the keywords 'Ancient Egypt' as an example. "Google Images will provide you with a rich variety of results including pyramids, maps, relics, drawings and other types of images. Instead of poring through hundreds of images, now you can simply click 'Find Similar Images' to narrow down the results."

It has been a busy few days for Google Labs. Earlier this week, a new experiment called Google Social Search was launched that aims to highlight social media content from friends and contacts. Links to blogs, tweets and status updates will appear at the bottom of the main Google SERPs and there will also be an option to exclude other results. Users, who must be signed into their Google profile to get the personalised search results, will find contacts drawn from a range of sources such as Gmail and people they are following on Twitter and FriendFeed.

In this cringeworthy video, Google explains some of the uses of Similar Images:

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