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Riya-Flickr mashup / What is visual search?

In a sidebar to Chapter 3, I ask the question of whether we will be able to ultimately rely on visual searching instead of tags? I mention that that companies like Riya are hard at work to bring us visual search. What other companies are out there? Trying out Riya has been on my list for a while, especially because it has an API. If you have experience with Riya, especially the API, please contact me. I'd like to see whether I can do a mashup between Flickr and Riya in which I could feed Riya my photos, using the tags I already have in Flickr to train it to recognize faces of friends, and then ask Riya to tag the rest of my photos. I'm sure someone must have tried to do so already. How have they succeeded?

What might a non-word based search look like? Draw something that you want to look for and the search engine will bring up pictures that look like what you drew? Or would you present a photo to the search engine, and it would bring up similar photos? The fact that we still have to type words in to a search engine to search for pictures or video or music, shows how deep end and we are on words for search and for describing nonverbal objects. That's why tags are so central in Flickr, where the dominant form of data is visual.

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