Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Pond5 launches AI-driven royalty-free image search tools

Stock image specialist Pond5 has released a set of new free AI-driven visual search tools, enabling users to find royalty-free footage or stills matching a source image.

Users can perform image searches by installing browser plugins for Chrome or Firefox, or by visiting the visual search page on Pond5’s website on a desktop or mobile device.

Find stock material in Pond5’s library from your browser or cameraphone
Visual image search technology isn’t new, of course: Google has been doing it for years.

But while CG artists frequently make use of Google for reference material, particularly for matte painting and concept work, it can lead to a legally grey area when it comes to image rights.

Pond5’s twist is that all of the results its searches return are royalty-free, being part of its library of 60 million licensable assets – some of them are music or sound effects, but that’s still a fair number of images.

It’s also possible to search directly for images matching pics snapped on your phone camera, if your original photos aren’t high enough quality to use directly.

Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be a native app, but if you visit the visual search page on Pond5’s website on your mobile and tap the upload icon, it gives you the option to take a picture directly.

Alternatively, you can install the browser extension for Chrome or Firefox – Safari is in development – which enables you to select any region of a webpage, edit out anything unnecessary, and perform a search.

In our entirely unscientific tests, the system worked pretty much as you’d expect: a cameraphone photo of a coffee mug returned lots of similar mugs, plus other round objects like woks and ashtrays.

A browser-based search using online images of local landmarks also did pretty well, in some cases returning royalty-free images of the building in question; in others, images of buildings of a similar age.

Availability and system requirements
Pond5’s visual search tools are free. You can install the Firefox or Chrome extensions via the link below, or perform a search from the web browser of your phone or desktop PC.

Use Pond5’s free visual search tools to find royalty-free images matching a source photo