Having made Google Image Options (including colour) and Similar Images available as part of their standard image search, Google are now playing around with Image Swirl in Google Labs. According to Google it “builds on new computer vision research to cluster similar images into representative groups in a fun, exploratory interface”. In practice it is a combination of similar images and the Wonderwheel.
One of my image test searches is Edvard Munch and Swirl came back with 12 thumbnails of stacked images (12 is the standard number of stacks) :
Click on a group of stacked images and another set of images “swirl” into view in the form of the wonderwheel:
And you can keep on clicking on groups/stacks of images but still keep the “history” of your selections.
I was pleasantly surprised by the clustering or stacking of the images. I thought that by the time I had reached ‘level 3’ of my browsing each stack would be just different versions of the same image or images with similar colour composition. My Edvard Munch level 3 selection, however, came up with a selection of landscapes with different colours. They did, though, seem to have similar ‘patterns’, for examples paths or what could be interpreted as paths as a major component of the image.
Phil Bradley has also reviewed Google Swirl and comments “Bing is going to have their work cut out to try and catch up.” Far too polite, Phil. I’d say “Bing, eat your heart out!”
Google Swirl looks very promising and I shall be monitoring its progress with interest.