A technical article on identifying images
The previous item
asked for help identifying the subjects shown in pictures - in this particular case some cinderella stamps.
In general that's a hard problem, so I thought it's worth writing about various approaches to the problem itself.
Simply asking is an example of
- applying many eyes and brains to the task in the
hope that someone out there can provide the answer. Humans experts are ideal for this task!
TinEye reverse search engine
There are however a number of computer helpers we can apply to the task, and the
TinEye reverse image search
is the first of these. In their words,
"You can submit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used,
if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions." This is great because we can
use it directly on our own image files. Of course, the match is dependent on the image being in their database,
which they currently claim is 1,256,651,249 images
As mobile phones become more and more powerful, the combination of computer power, a camera, and internet connectivity
has lead to some very interesting possibilities.
is a mobile phone application that allows you to
"use pictures to search the web." You need an Android powered phone to use this at the moment, and the general idea
is that you take a picture of something using the phone camera, and a that is used to do a Google search. The end result is
doing the search, but of course along the way the system has to try to identify what you were taking a picture of.
We are slightly fortunate in this particular case because the subject matter is constrained - all the stamps are
although very poor reproductions, obviously taken from paintings, and "artwork" is one of the categories of images that
Google Googles particularly specializes in.
The major downside to this is that we can't use this to directly recognise our images - we have to (first locate an
Android phone and then) display the image on a computer screen and use the phone camera to rephotograph it.
is another Android mobile phone application, that also allows you to
take a picture of some artwork with your phone camera, and to identify it and find out about it.
There is actually a further constraint to our particular problem - the producers of these cinderella stamps
probably simply found their images off the internet. So we can do the same - plug "windmill painting" into an
appropriate image search engine, and look for the images amongst the results.
How did each approach do?
See also:Benin windmill stamps (cinderellas)
- Croudsourcing - well I've yet to get any replies in from anyone on this
- TinEye - managed to match one of the images to a poster being sold at Amazon
- Google Goggles - managed to match one of the images to a book cover being sold at Amazon
- PlinkArt - didn't match anything - I guess its database of artworks is rather smaller, and it doesn't benefit
from also searching the huge selection of Amazon images.
- Creative guesswork - well as it turned out, this was by far the most successful -
6 of the 7 images were matched this way
See also:Just one windmill painting stamp we can't identify