Sunday, May 25, 2008

TinEye - Search images with images


TinEye is an image search engine that takes a completely different approach for searching images. It lets you search for images on the web not with texts as search inputs but with images! You upload an image from your computer or specify the URL of the image and get a list of identical or similar images on the web.

According to their FAQ, TinEye uses sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms to find your image on the web without the use of metadata or watermarks. TinEye instantly analyzes your query image to create a compact digital signature or ‘fingerprint’ for it. TinEye then searches for your image by comparing its fingerprint to the fingerprint of every single other image in the TinEye index of 487 million images.

TinEye's concept is a cool one and although it does a good job in recognizing the image and bringing good results, it has it's limitation. TinEye displays only results containing images identical to the query image, images that are cropped from a larger image or with slight modifications like color adjustment and minor rotation. When I use the word "identical" I actually meant "exact". That's the problem with TinEye. For instance, if you upload an image of say Catherine Zeta Jones, the results will display only those sites where this exact image of Catherine Zeta Jones appear, or with slight modification like cropped. It does not recognize the faces in the image and so does not display all Catherine Zeta Jones images. So if you are looking for an image of Catherine Zeta Jones in the red dress when you only have an image of her in a black one, then forget about it.


So, if you already have an image why do you need to search for it on the web? Well, you might need to under these circumstances

  1. You have an image but you don't know what it is. Huh?
  2. You have an image and you want a higher resolution of the same image. This is where TinEye can come extremely handy.
  3. TinEye will help you fight plagiarism. If you have a photography blog where you publish photographs shot by you, then you can use TinEye to find out if anybody is using your photos without your permission.

TinEye is currently in private beta, but you can request an invite.


  1. I tried more than 15 times. Every time I got only 0 results. They should improve their data base.

    How shall I contact you for any guidance? your contact is not available in the blog.

  2. TinEye is far from being perfect and their index is very small. All webpages aren't indexed by them and hence only popular images give results.

    Regarding my contact id, it's available at the bottom of the page. Look at "Contact Me" and also the About page.


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