500px’s new Splash tool lets you search through images simply by making a sketch
Search capabilities have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. As processing power increases, so does the speed at which software can run. This means more complex calculations can be performed in a much shorter amount of time. Which brings us to this. 500px’s new search feature which lets you search simply by scribbling down a quick sketch.
While it doesn’t quite offer the artistic freedom of Photoshop, it actually seems to work really well. If you hadn’t noticed by the image above, I have virtually zero drawing skill. This is why I use a camera. But, it was smart enough to figure out what I was trying to draw. It presented me with a bunch of results that weren’t too far off what I wanted.
The interface is very simple. You have a slider to control the size of your brush and a colour picker to choose the colour you want to draw. A “clear” button at the top right lets you start over when you inevitably realise how badly you draw.
Like I said, it’s no Photoshop. Below this are five different category tabs from which you can select. Landscapes, people, animals, travel or city.
As is common with search engines, the results update dynamically. The resulting images change as you draw. Well, as you try to draw.
The results aren’t perfect, but it does seem to mostly understand what I was after. Scrolling further down the page presents a number of results very similar to what I had in mind.
I only really have a few minor complaints, which I’m assuming are probably on their “To do” list already.
- There’s no type of undo and it’s easy to accidentally click the brush on the canvas while using the colour picker.
- An eye dropper type tool would be handy, so that when #1 happens, we can easily erase the problem instead of having to start over from scratch.
- I wish the brush could go a lot smaller.
But, if it can figure out my scribbles, it should have no problems for the rest of you. It’s actually pretty incredible, and I’m curious to see how this technology will develop in the future. This type of search holds a lot of potential.
You can check it out for yourself over at 500px Labs.
Have you tried it yet? Has it given you the results you’ve been hoping for? Is your drawing ability as bad as mine? Let us know what you think in the comments.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.