This past week Ask Jeeves launched its first proprietary image search technology, a service which features major improvements to its image search ranking algorithms and its new "related search suggestions" feature. Jeeves has been involved with picture search since 2003 and until now the service was powered by Picsearch, a third-party provider of image search capabilities.
About Jeeves' New Image Search
Jeeves' new image search technology was developed internally and uses many of the same elements that have made its main web search unique and popular. For instance, the two search types share the same algorithmic search ranking feature which clusters the web into topic areas and determines the ranking of pages within that area.
In addition, the Ask Jeeves brings new imaging search technology and know-how to the table which will assist in the measuring of specific imagery attributes such as image type, shape, brightness, and contrast level to determine picture quality.
Image search is offered by all of the major search engines, and people tend to think it's a fairly generic service, with little difference in results between any of the engines. When in fact, Image search is tricky because images lack most of the clues search engines use to find relevant text documents that match our queries. Because images are made up of patterns of bits rather than words, search engines can't directly "look" at an image and figure out what it represents.
Instead, search engines look for other clues, such as file-names, text immediately above or below an image (potential captions), the overall context of a page an image appears on, and so on.
What Makes Ask Jeeves Unique?
What separates Ask Jeeves from the likes of Google or Yahoo!? Currently, Jeeves' image search performing all of it's tasks while also applying its Teoma ranking system to find sites that have a broad representation of images and topics. This will help to identify those sources that have the greatest degree of "authority" for a particular topic to help determine image relevance.
Personally, I love this new search feature from ask, and very much enjoy the processes for how they find, index, and rank images. I believe they offer the most complete algorithm, and therefore offer the most relevant image searches of their competitors. Furthermore, Ask Jeeves has definitely taken image search to a whole new level.