Finding faces

The fun I’ve been having with DoubleSearch has reminded me how easy it is to create new search providers that plug into your browser’s dropdown list of search engines. Here’s an interesting one: FaceSearch. As the name suggests, it finds pictures of faces.

This is nothing more than a Live Search for images, with face recognition turned on. You can get the same effect by doing a regular search, and then using the Refine By options to show only color photos of faces. But those restrictions don’t persist across searches. And if you have to tweak them every time, it’s awkward to explore face space.

With FaceSearch, you can fly through sequences of face-oriented searches. For example:

  1. people: yourself, friends, family, and associates, celebrities
  2. emotions: happy, angry
  3. expressions: smile, frown, wink
  4. places: your town, New Zealand, Mumbai, Reykavik
  5. ethnic groups: Maori, Pashtun
  6. decorations: glasses, hat, piercing
  7. hairstyles: combover, mullet, afro

It’s interesting to compare these results to Flickr searches that include the tag face. When the facial aspect of a photo is important enough to tag, you’ll do much better with Flickr. For example, it delivers wonderful results for angry face and Mumbai face. But it finds nothing for Reykavik face, whereas Live Search finds thousands of Icelandic faces.

Update #1: It helps if you spell Reykjavik correctly. When you do, Flickr finds 300 Icelandic faces.

Update #2: As per Bill’s comment below, Google has a syntax for face search too. Hadn’t known that. So this can become another kind of DoubleSearch. Done! Now twice the fun!

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