GazoPa Gets In Bloom

You might be familiar with GazoPa, a Web site that allows you to find similar images based on an image you provide. (It’s available at http://www.gazopa.com/; I wrote about it in ResearchBuzz last November.) GazoPa is releasing a new service that’s much more focused: it’s all about flowers.

Hitachi America announced private beta at GazoPa Bloom yesterday. You can sign up for an invitation at http://bloom.gazopa.com. This site is for exploring flower images and, if you need help identifying a flower, uploading images and letting other people try to identify them for you.

The front page has a bloom of the day, links for popular flower images (“popular” is relative — the site doesn’t appear that busy yet) and of course a search engine to search by keyword or a mechanism to upload images. I did a search for gardenia.

I got two kinds of results. The first kind was a classification result that showed general information about gardenias, including classification and a link to a Wikipedia article. The second kind was a set of five photographs showing gardenias.

The photo comes from Flickr as does some information about it. The community weighs in on what it thinks the bloom is and you are
free to disagree if you wish. What’s interesting is that GazoPa also suggests what it thinks the flower is — in the case of this image GazoPa thought it was an anemone. The site also shows images that are similar in shape, color, or overall. All the images I looked at came from Flickr.

I’m not a big gardener but I thought this was an interesting use of GazoPa technology. There will have to be a lot more traffic to see how it really works in practice, however. You know what I’d really like to see for a GazoPa niche engine? Cars. Can you imagine all the dozens of different brands of cars, with the hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of year models, grouped by similar shape and color?

Find Similar Images With GazoPa

Hitachi America has announced that its similar image search engine, GazoPa, is now available for open beta testing at http://www.gazopa.com. Similar image search engines, as you may know, allow you to upload or otherwise specify an image whereby the engine goes out and finds images which look like that one.

In the case of GazoPa, you can upload an image, enter an image URL, or even draw an image to find similar results. (There’s also a keyword search.) I decided to specify a URL and found a lighthouse picture at http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2601/3838951221_459f5276cb.jpg. Here’s the search result I got:

GazoPa's Search Results

As you can see GazoPa seems to be looking at background color and element arrangement; in this case it seemed to be looking at “Tall element dominating image with partly-cloudy sky in background.” This led to all kinds of images, including trees, buildings, and even the Eiffel Tower, but no other lighthouse images in the beginning of the search results.

GazoPa has options with its search, though, that will tweak what you’re getting. You can choose an emphasis on shape or color or more. I tweaked the search to focus on shape, and here’s how the search results came out:

GazoPa, Concentrating on Shape

You can’t see it but I did actually get some lighthouses in this first page of results. The emphasis did seem to be more on
buildings, though there’s a hummingbird feeder and at least a couple of people in this first page of search results. Switching my
search emphasis to color brought me lots of sunny skies, but the subjects of the picture were all over the map.

I could not leave GazoPa without trying the “draw something and find something similar” tool. Sadly my drawing talent is limited so I contented myself with using the basic drawing tools to draw the occasionally extremely mean “Hat Guy” from xkcd — the one with the black hat. (He’s a stick figure so he doesn’t tax my skills too much. You can see an example of Hat Guy here.)

I did get one stick figure in my search result, but I was bemused to discover that most of my search results were, not to put too fine a point on it, tripods. Apparently I’m better at drawing a straight line than I thought.

I don’t know if I would use GazoPa to find similar images. I would use GazoPa to explore photographs in a fun way, and to try to get ideas for visual images. Useful to me … but I’m not sure if it’s useful in the way it was intended.