It’s a little like playing Pictionary with a search engine — drawing a sketch and seeing if the algorithm can return pictures that match it.

That’s the concept behind Microsoft Research’s “MindFinder” project, which was adapted last year for a Windows Phone app dubbed Sketch Match.

The technology is detailed in a patent application made public this past week, filed in 2010 by three researchers from the company’s Beijing lab.

Google Image Search has a similar feature, allowing users to upload or input the address of existing images to find similar pictures. However, in a video describing the MindFinder technology, the Microsoft researchers say finding an image from a sketch is harder.

The patent application notes that “the prevalence of devices with touch screen capability has made the human-computer interaction, and sketching in particular, much easier than before.”

Along those lines, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them adapt this for Windows 8 in some way.

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  • Jason Gerard Clauss

    Nice. The porn industry can’t wait for this…

  • S.M.

    Nothing new here.  Imgseek ( has been doing this since at least 2007 and probably earlier.

  • PuZZleDucK

    Thanks S.M. I didn’t want to look it up but knew I’d used something like this years ago! (it was also an extra credit project in third year uni) Great to see more _innovation_ from the top.

  • franz enzenhofer

    well, cool, m$ gets a patent while i have implemented this on top of googles image search during a weekend (supporting webcam, too)

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