Time to play the matching game!
January 22, 2008 4:56 PM   Subscribe

I have an image that I believe came from the Internet. With the digital version of this image, can I search for it online?

I believe that an image that someone is passing off as their own actually came from somewhere on the Internet. This person isn't computer-savvy enough to significantly alter the image in any way--this same person did the same thing a few months ago, and luckily we found that picture on page 10 of the Google image results.

The picture we have now is moderately unsettling to look at, and it's also of a more common subject than the last one. Is there any way that I can search for this image by using some sort of search engine that compares it to others? A rudimentary search would work better than none.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
posted by DMan to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know if there is a good technical solution, but you could post the image and let the hive-detectives find it for you.
posted by rokusan at 4:59 PM on January 22, 2008

We've found images before.
posted by Eringatang at 5:05 PM on January 22, 2008

In theory, that's what Retrievr is for. In practice, the matches it finds aren't even close.

I'm not sure that any great service exists to do what you're looking for, sadly.
posted by fogster at 5:08 PM on January 22, 2008

Response by poster: Heh, I thought about asking the hive-detectives, but didn't really want to do so. In the interest of the question, I'll post it, but I really want to find a service to do this. Mods: if this is inappropriate, please feel free to remove it, and anyone who wants to help can MeMail me.

Image (Note: somewhat gross if you don't like blood/newborn babies) here.

Sorry its MySpace, sorry it's so small, that's all we have to work with.
posted by DMan at 5:14 PM on January 22, 2008

Curious -- why are you searching? If it's from MySpace, is there a story behind your search?
posted by cior at 5:21 PM on January 22, 2008

Sheesh, that was brain dead of me. I think I gots the backstory, or at least the gist of it. Good luck with your witch hunt. :)
posted by cior at 5:46 PM on January 22, 2008

I think what you want is generally called Content-based image retrieval. From reading that article and checking some of the example engines linked therein, it seems that this has so far only been applied to somewhat limited collections -- certainly not on the scale of what Google image search or live.com image search have indexed. It would be nice if the big players allowed you to enter an exact dimension of the image if you know that you're looking for something specific, as that seems to be metadata that they do store. I'm guessing they don't store the actual images themselves though.

(I also checked all the standard image search sites using the query [birth cord] and found many similar pictures but nothing that is exactly the same.)
posted by Rhomboid at 6:27 PM on January 22, 2008

Response by poster: Davey, you're my hero.

Thanks to everyone else for the answers, I may need this in the future and I'm sure it'll be useful to others someday. I hope the technology to do this in a more...computer-based way becomes available soon.

posted by DMan at 6:31 PM on January 22, 2008

I knew someone could do it. I didn't have the stomach once I saw the topic area.

Yeah I am a wimp.
posted by rokusan at 9:41 PM on January 22, 2008

Retrievr and other Image processing tools are still not accurate enough, but they are taking on a much harder large task, finding a matching 'image.'

This question has me wondering why finding a matching 'file' isn't a service provided by google or whoever yet. I mean essentially that image is a string "01000100101...." just like "newborn birth" is a string, I'm kinda shocked a tool to find a matching string (binary file) isn't' available.

Of course this wouldn't help the OP if the someone had altered it (changed size/ saved in a different format, whatever.) But wouldn't a service "find any other instance of this exact file, or closest match" be pretty useful in other cases? Has anyone heard of that?
posted by oblio_one at 6:37 PM on January 23, 2008

Response by poster: rokusan, I agree with you on that one. It wasn't so much that particular picture that bothered me, it was the thought of other similar and possibly worse ones appearing on the same page.

oblio_one: I agree! I actually briefly looked into somehow creating a hash of the image and searching that, but I couldn't really find anything. Definitely seems like it should be possible.
posted by DMan at 9:25 PM on January 23, 2008

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