Facebook has just begun to roll out a new feature that will allow users to search for photos within the platform. This new feature can be used by searching for keywords that describe the image. The search will then return pictures from your friends that match that description in some way. In addition to using captions and comments on photos as clues to help the search bring back relevant results, Facebook is actually using special software that will allow its search function to actually return result based only on the image itself.
Releasing this update comes after updating Lumos, a piece of AI technology that Facebook had already been using to help recognize individuals and to tag them in various photos. This new update to the technology being used allows Lumos to actually look at photos on the pixel level so that it can describe the photo in various ways. This new AI technology is highly innovative as previously search engines relied on captions and descriptions to search images.
The new features show a big change in search technology on the whole as previously even image searches relied on text surrounding pictures to identify them. Of course, this method was flawed in that a person could write anything down as a caption and in other cases images didn’t correspond to surrounding text or didn’t have a caption at all. With the new ability to use image understanding, Facebook’s search feature is able to return more relevant results. Although it still seems to use keywords in descriptions and comments for more abstract searches, it is able to also use information that it has gathered from the photos themselves. This makes it so that photos that might not have any comments or a caption will still show up in the search.
While Facebook has been using Lumos already to identify faces and landmarks that can label who is in the photo and even where it is taken, the new update allows Lumos to extend its abilities to identifying what is actually happening in the photo as well. By doing this, Facebook has made it so that they can offer a search function that can help users find pictures that they would like to see again whether it is images of a pizza that they cooked a few months ago or of their friends playing in the snow. Users will be able to have access to this function right away as Facebook is currently rolling out image searches to all users whether they use Facebook on the computer or on a mobile device.