Hitachi develops visual search technology

— 6:00 AM on July 26, 2007

If you've ever dreamed of being able to look for a photo by its actual contents rather than its file name or tags? A new technology developed by Hitachi could make that dream a reality. As Nikkei Tech-On! reports, the Japanese firm has developed a visual search technology that can supposedly look through millions of images or videos for similar pictures in just one second. Tech-On! describes the technology as follows:

The technology assesses the similarity of images based on image characteristics presented as high-dimensional numeric information. The information is acquired by automatically detecting information regarding the images, such as color distribution and shapes. The technology can be applied to video search as well. . . . The visual similarity search shows visual data of a search target as hundreds of dimensions of numerical line data (the visual characteristics) and assesses how similar the data (similarity) from a distance between vectors of visual characteristics, or in other words, a gap between the visual characteristics.
Tech-On! also goes into the optimizations Hitachi has implemented in order to speed up the process. Those optimizations include clustering technology, which chops up images into "clusters of similar characteristics," as well as "optimized data allocation" on the storage medium. The site says the technology has already been commercialized, but it doesn't go into details about implementations.
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