Google adds facial recognition to image search

Ars Technica is reporting that Google has quietly added basic facial recognition features to their image search. There is no user-interface for it yet and it can currently only be accessed by appending &imgType=face to an image search. Here’s an example (I’m on page 2): John Watson

Still in the experimental stages, this would obviously be a killer feature to add to Picasa and Picasa Web Albums, Google’s photo management application. It would be huge to be able to identify people in just a few photos in your collection and then be able to search for all photos with those same people. has had something like this for a while with its “People” tab.

Google’s addition of this feature is a shot across the bow of every other photo sharing service out there. I can only speculate that Flickr, Smug Mug, and other photo sharing services are working on similar features. They’d better be because this is the sort of thing that will make sorting through thousands of photos of people much easier than it has ever been before. I for one would love to be able to sort out pictures of just my kids, for example, in all of my untagged photos.

By John Watson

John Watson is the original founder of Photodoto. If you're interested in what John has been up to, you can browse his personal blog.


  1. I’m puzzled. When I enter &imgType=face to the search I get no results and in the example all the results for John Watson have the name in text underneath anyway.

    Is that really facial recognition?

  2. I wasn’t clear enough. Do an image search for something, then append &imgType=face to the URL. When you click the “John Watson” search above you’ll find imgType=face in the URL. If you remove it, you get different results that aren’t all faces.

  3. This just filters for faces – it recognizes the faces, but can’t actually recognize “John Watson” without text. Even now, it can’t tell one John Watson from another – but it is an interesting Google hack.

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