IBM is developing a new search tool which it claims will offer a better way to search online for photos and videos than current methods used by Google.
The new tool, called SAPIR (Search in Audio-Visual Content Using Peer-to-Peer Information Retrieval) indexes and analyses “low-level descriptors”, or attributes such as colour, layout, shape and sounds, in photos and videos.
The technology then compares those descriptors to other existing photos to help identify what’s in the picture.
Traditional search technologies typically sift through images based on text tags assigned to the photos.
SAPIR uses peer-to-peer technology, so there’s no central point of failure, the company said.
The technology could produce applications that might let someone take a picture of an item and discover stores that sell the item. Or doctors might be able to use it to assist with diagnoses, IBM said.
SAPIR was created by researchers from IBM in Israel; Max-Planck Institute in Germany; Eurix, the Institute of Information and Science and Technology and the University of Padua in Italy; Xerox in France; Masarvkova University in Czech Republic; Telefonica’s research arm in Spain; and Norway’s Telenor.
Ari Fishkind said the researchers are still tweaking the technology and it will be “some time” before it’s turned into a product.