A few days ago, Google launched “similar image search” functionality. From TechCrunch:
A new 20% time Google project has just launched called Google Similar Images. It’s pretty self-explanatory — when you search for an image and find one close to what you’re looking for, Google can now find ones that it believes to be the same, or similar.
Much has been written and discussed about this, around the web. I am not going to add my reviews or my opinions about the service itself, right now. Rather, I have one overarching, confounding question that I would like answered: Why was this only a 20% time project?
Search, information retrieval, and information organization are all key to Google’s primary mission statement. Image search via similarity is a well-known, long-studied problem. Why is it only now that such solutions are being offered by the Web giant, and not years ago? More importantly, why was this not somebody’s 80% project, rather than a 20% time project? One would think that such a mission-core piece of functionality would be something that Google would pursue 4 of 5 days a week, not only 1 of 5 days a week.
In related work, Microsoft’s web image search engine has facets. Innovation all around.