Reverse Image Search – Searching People by Photos
Every few days I get a message from users all over the world, with more or less the same question: I have a photo of someone I am looking for, can you help me find this person on the Internet? (This is usually referred to “reverse image search“, or “people search” with photograph images, or “similar image searching“).
Unfortunately, I can’t. I’d need to have access to all images of all people of this world to use face recognition on them. Some Intelligence Service might have such a database. I don’t.
You need to have access to a real huge collection of images, and you need very strong computing power. That can only be done by companies with huge resources. Therefore, for some time it was only Google with such a capability. Their image search is not using face recognition (afaik), but their scale invariant feature technology works nice on face images, too.
But now it is no longer Google alone to offer such a service! So here is a list of search engines that can compare images within a reasonably large database (please send feedback if you know more):
- Google Image Search
Just upload a photo to Google’s Image Search, and it will find similar images. With Google owning probably the largest database of images on the web, chances are high that you find that (or at least a similar) photo.
- Yandex Reverse Image Search
Russian search engine Yandex also offers reverse image matching, including image upload.
- Baidu Reverse Image Search
Chinese search engine Baidu also offers reverse image matching with image upload.
Currently uses Google, Bing and Yandex to do a reverse image search by making use of the IncandescentAPI. Very helpful site for people using a mobile device and therefore cannot easily use the links above.
Especially made for photographers. Also helps finding brand images. (Click on the camera symbol within the search field)
- Karma Decay Image Search on Reddit
Beta version of an image search engine on Reddit.com.
- TinEye Reverse Image Search
Claims to have indexed over 12 billion images. Allows image input either via upload or with a given URL.
- PicTriev – Searching Faces on the Web
This one uses real face recognition to find a similar looking face. Unfortunately it searches only within a limited set of “celebrities”.
- Berify Stolen Image Search
Last but surely not least I’d like to draw your attention to this new reverse image search engine (which seems to be a spin-off of social catfish). Officially made to search for “stolen” images, it is quite powerful and different from all the others above. Their algorithm to match pictures, in my opinion, seems to use more shape and colour information than the other engines. I mean, if you reverse search a picture of a blonde woman with green eyes and blue shirt, you will get pictures like that with that engine. The other engines above might give you totally different results of a red-haired guy with green shirt. So whatever those guys at Berify did, I think it is worth to try out (use the free trial version).
- Scam Digger Pic Search
Beta version using images from Romancescam forums.
- HowHot? from ETH Zurich.
Combines age and gender estimation together with attractiveness classification. Attractiveness ranges from “hmmm” over “ok” to “hot” and “godlike”. Even though this sounds just like a marketing gag, the algorithms used are scientifically state-of-the art. Further explanations of the technology can be found at the same site.
- CelebsLike.Me from Microsoft.
Which Oscar nominee do you look like? A face matching app from Microsoft using their new deep-learning technology. Upload a photo and you see which 2016 Oscar nominee looks like the person on that pic.
- Twins Or Not? from Microsoft.
You can upload two photos and the face recognition engine will calculate a similarity score (100% means identical). This should be very useful for all of you who want to know whether a given face image represents the same person as in a different image. The face recognition engine is actually quite good – it is using Microsoft’s Project Oxford web service.
- How old do I look? from Microsoft.
You can upload a photo with any amount of faces on it, and the site will answer with all found faces marked, together with an age estimation of each person.
Don’t be too shocked if your estimated age is far off reality (+- 15 years accuracy is my rough guess), but the face detector seems to be highly accurate. Microsoft uses its Project Oxford web service for doing that, so you might want to check that out.
- Real-time Face Detector 2.0 from Alexander Telnykh. Detection of faces in frontal angle on digital photos and in videostreams, detection of faces in a tilt perspective. Allows front objects between ±15° from horizontal, detection of faces in profile perspective, demo of Eyes Localization, demo of Face Tracking, demo of skin-color filtering.
- Submit face images to the Betaface Live Demo by Oleksandr Kazakov (there is also a discussion group available)
- Submit face images to the University Illinois online face finder
Very often people are sending pictures from someone who contacted them, by some chat community or partnership platform. They want to know whether this person is for real, or whether it is a so-called “scammer”, using pictures of someone else. This seems to be a big problem called “romance scam“. A few websites try to help users by searching for images of well-known scammers:
Now that this topic is not fully related to face detection, I created a page especially for listing all related tools and resources. If you want to know more about reverse image search, please visit Reverse Image Search Resources!
Other interesting demos using face detection / face finders technology: