Visual Search Presents a Challenge for People and Computers

June 24, 2013

We found a recent Science Daily article, “Visual Search Function: Where Scene Context Happens in Our Brain,“ to be pretty fascinating. We might write a lot about how search works as far as computers process search but another interesting perspective lies in the investigation of how search happens through our eyes and with the power of our brain behind it.

The brain, since the beginnings of human evolution, has developed a framework for search based mostly on context such as the surrounding environment and scene context.

According to the article, scene context creates a strong bias in search. In one study discussed, many people that were shown images of something that looked like a computer mouse on a desk automatically interpreted the object as a mouse.

Computers are only recently being taught such a skill set found in the area of our brains known as the lateral occipital complex:

‘So, if you’re looking for a computer mouse on a cluttered desk, a machine would be looking for things shaped like a mouse. It might find it, but it might see other objects of similar shape, and classify that as a mouse,’ [Miguel Eckstein, professor in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences] said. Computer vision systems might also not associate their target with specific locations or other objects. So, to a machine, the floor is just as likely a place for a mouse as a desk.

Sure, text search remains a work in progress. But why not go ahead and take on a challenge with visual search?

Megan Feil, June 24, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search


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