IS&T/SPIE Electronic Imaging 2002
Conference paper

ISee: Perceptual features for image library navigation

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To develop more satisfying image navigation systems, we need tools to construct a semantic bridge between the user and the database. In this paper we present an image indexing scheme and a query language, which allow the user to introduce a cognitive dimension to the search. At an abstract level, this approach consists of: 1) learning the "natural language" that humans speak to communicate their semantic experience of images, 2) understand the relationships between this language and objective measurable image attributes, and then 3) develop the corresponding feature extraction schemes. In our previous work we have conducted a number of subjective experiments in which we asked human subjects to group images, and then explain verbally why they did so [1]. The results of this study indicated that part of the abstraction involved in image interpretation is often driven by semantic categories, which can be broken into more tangible semantic entities, i.e. objective semantic indicators. By analyzing our experimental data, we identified some candidate semantic categories (i.e. portraits, people, crowds, cityscapes, landscapes, etc.), discovered their underlying semantic indicators (i.e. skin, sky, water, object, etc.), and derived important low-level image descriptors accounting for our perception of these indicators. In our recent work we have used these findings to develop a set of image features that match the way humans communicate image meaning, and a "semantic-friendly" query language for browsing and searching diverse collections of images. We have implemented our approach into an Internet search engine, ISee, and tested it on a large number of images. The results we obtained are very promising.