| How do you find a picture of a ballet dancer? of a painting by
Rembrandt? of a red Chinese dragon? of the Fonz (ala Happy
Days) being cool in his leather jacket and boots? of Cindy
Crawford or Claudia Schiffer running on a beach? How does a
graphic artist find material for a new collage? How does a
clothing designer decide on all the different textures and fabrics
between cotton, wool, lycra, canvas, latex, silk, rayon? How can
you find a picture of Nixon shaking hands with Elvis?
Currently, about 80% of the information on the World Wide
Web consists of images, yet there are few or no methods of
finding this hidden treasure of information on the Web. Leiden
University has been developing new methods of finding images
and other media for the next generation Web search engines.
In content based search, it is often necessary to
search extremely large image and video collections.
These collections often have little or no annotation
so purely text methods may be ineffectual. In the
ImageScape project, we are striving to develop the
technologies which will make very large visual media
collections accessible to non-experts.
Our ongoing research includes methods which take into
account important factors such as: (1) the sheer
size of the databases - over 10 million images and
videos; and most importantly, (2) query mechanisms
which are intended for creative artists and nonexperts. This has
already resulted in innovative data structures
for compressing image databases, computationally
efficient algorithms for finding similar images, and
development of an intuitive icon based user interface. Methods
for detecting visual concepts from images and video
are also an essential aspect of this project.