Search engine developers are constantly looking for new ways to make it easier and more rewarding for users to navigate the World Wide Web for the best results. Perhaps one of the most pioneering advances in online browsing has to be the reverse image search.
Reverse image scanning allows you to upload personal photos as well as scan image files from obscure corners of the internet and quickly retrieve matching results ranging from an important few to several hundreds of thousands, making it easier to search for content by images.
Google Images vs Lens
There are a great many players in the game of finding search results that effectively use reverse image searching to their advantage, like Yahoo! and Bing. However, as usual, Google remains the frontrunner in this area as with so many others.
Google’s “search by image” option has been a handy tool for gathering several matching results from a single image. Google Lens is a more recent technology that takes it one step further by meticulously scanning different aspects of an image for more thorough results as well as for locating specific components, like logos, from across the web.
While Lens certainly has its advantages, people often find Google Images to be more reliable for simpler tasks where Lens’ advanced algorithms might be a bit overkill.
3 innovative uses of the reverse image search
You might have become familiar with reverse image scanning when you’re searching for products online or if you want to find the same image in a larger resolution. All of these are creative ways of using search engines or browsing services on their own, but there’s a lot more to this technology than you might think.
Reverse image searching can be used in a number of previously unconsidered fields where the ability to scan even the smallest details in a .jpeg or .png file can deliver valuable results. Let’s go through some areas of interest where image-based searches can be useful.
1. Digital marketing
In the online marketplace, the success of your brand depends not just on the popularity of your own site, but on how many of your links are touted on other pages. This is usually seen with backlinks, where your content gains popularity through appearing on multiple external sources. However, this isn’t just true of URLs or written content.
If you own the rights to an image for commercial or advertising purposes, you can use it on your website. If it is then used by others, reverse imaging is a great way to find out the pages that have done so which can be used to promote your brand even further through image-based backlinks.
2. Plagiarism testing
Stealing someone else’s work is seriously frowned upon in many fields, like marketing and academic research. Even though there are increasingly effective methods for checking originality, people sometimes find loopholes. For instance, people often steal written content, screenshot it, and post it as an image file to bypass text-based plagiarism software.
Thankfully, reverse image search technologies like the one used by Lens have the ability to detect text samples from images and make them digitally readable. This detected text can then be matched to the original content through conventional writing-based plagiarism detection, making it harder to pirate someone else’s hard work.
3. Forensic investigation
This one’s a bit more ambitious but worth considering given the potential for good. Reverse imaging often employs facial recognition technology for finding exact or matching results. With this principle, it can be used to find missing persons or criminal suspects from witness photographs or mugshots by scanning private or publicly-available online CCTV databases.
Though not as thorough as forensic facial recognition, with proper application and regulation, it might help save lives.
The bottom line
The ability to retrieve search results through images has no shortage of benefits for internet users. But simple uses like the ones we’re already accustomed to are merely scratching the surface.
Reverse image searching is an underappreciated tool whose capabilities outside of basic image finding are perhaps so much more than we realize, and definitely worth considering given that this service is available for free.
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