5 Fascinating Search Engines That Search for Faces
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A face isn’t quite as unique and ageless as a fingerprint, but it’s easily captured and searched. Facial recognition, in combination with data from surveillance cameras or online profiles, is a powerful tool in finding people and tracking their every step. On the entertaining end of the spectrum, a face search can reveal your online (celebrity) lookalikes or your age.

Here are three face recognition search engines that may give you a thrill. Let’s see what they reveal about you or your friends.

1. Google Images Search: Reverse Face Search

Did you know that you could search Google by images? Rather than a keyword, you can use an image to search for similar images.

Click the camera icon to search by image. You can either paste the image URL or upload an image and Google will find similar images.

demonstrating Google image search

Moreover, you can make Google search for faces only by adding a small bit of code.

When you go to Google Images Search, enter your query, hit Enter, and then add “&imgtype=face” (without the quotes of course), either to the end of the search URL or right before another string starting with &. This will further improve the results of your face-related search.

Below is a before and after example that you can try for yourself:

Search a specific image term on Google

Google also offers its face recognition in Google Photos.

2. PicTriev: Face Recognition

PicTriev goes one step further by actually searching for similar faces. Unfortunately, the feature is limited to lookalike celebrities.

What you do is add the URL or upload a photo in JPG or JPEG format, with a size no larger than 200 KB, and the search engine will return matching celebrity images found online.

For demonstration purposes, I used my own headshot. While PicTriev correctly identified me as overwhelmingly female, the number one match was Jason Clarke. The age estimation of 30, however, is very flattering.

PicTriev face recognition

It works much better if you search for a celebrity image.

PicTriev also lets you compare the similarity of two faces or estimate whether photos of two faces are the same person. Click the meter icon on the top right, upload two photos, select similarity or identity, and let PicTriev do its calculations.

PicTriev facial match

Before you add photos, be sure to follow the instructions on formatting for the best results.

3. TinEye: Reverse Image Search

TinEye reverse image search engine works for faces.

TinEye’s reverse image search works almost like Google. You can upload an image or paste a URL and search for it. TinEye does not support any more search operators, making it both simpler and basic.

In my test, TinEye found three results, one of which Google had not included because the site died years ago. Also, it missed a newer result that its big brother had picked up. To me, this indicates that TinEye’s search index is largely outdated.

Unlike Google, TinEye links directly to the pages where it found the images and it skips similar images.

4. PimEyes: Face Search

Similar to Google’s reverse face search, PimEyes uses images and face recognition to search for similar faces on over 10 million websites. The demos using celebrity faces like Angelina Jolie or Zac Efron look promising.

For example, you can search for Jennifer Aniston’s face using four different photos at once. PimEyes will find the original photos, as well as other shots of Aniston.

Curiously, while the app does find the original pictures used for the search, the similarity is only scored at around 70%. Shouldn’t it be closer to 100%? Or does the algorithm take image resolution, size, brightness, and other digital alternations into account?

PimEyes facial matching

I tried the service myself, providing PimEyes with three different photos of me to analyze. The GIF below illustrates the process.

PimEyes analyses photos

There are other photos of me to be found online, but PimEyes didn’t spot them. The best it could find was someone else’s face with a 62% similarity. Apparently, my pictures do not appear on one of the 10 million sites analyzed by PimEyes.

Note that PimEyes offers a 24 hour deal that unlocks access to its premium search results. But given my questionable results, I would not recommend paying for this service.

5. Betaface: Facial Recognition Demo

Betaface offers a facial recognition How Facial Recognition Search Is Destroying Your Privacy How Facial Recognition Search Is Destroying Your Privacy Is facial recognition really part of a surveillance state and a form of oppression and control? Or is it more useful than that? Read More search similar to PicTriev’s photo identification. You can upload an image or send the image URL and the face search engine will isolate and characterize all the faces it can identify in the photo.

Betaface photo metadata

Next, you can compare faces (with other images you uploaded), search celebrities, or search Wikipedia for each recognized face. The results will appear in the Face recognition matches table.

Betadata face recognition matches

This tool is useful for uploading and comparing photos in bulk. In addition to classifying faces based on 101 pro facial points, you can also enable extended geometric and color measurements, as well as a “best face only” feature. Both of these slow down the processing, but will increase the quality of your matches.

Bonus: How-Old.net: How Old Do You Look?

A profile picture with an age detection.

This tool uses a photo to guess the subject’s age. Microsoft built How-Old.net to showcase its machine learning APIs. What’s more fascinating is what Microsoft learned through this experiment. Apparently, wearing a hat can make you look younger, while glasses will make you look older, and losing your beard can also shave off some years.

What Does Your Face Reveal?

Face recognition and search tools have a range of useful applications. Not only can they help the police identify suspects from security camera footage. They can also help professional photographers or media companies index visual material and build large and easy to search archives. Moreover, face recognition can replace passwords and keys.

But there’s a dark side to every tool. Not too long ago, the Facezam viral marketing scam highlighted what face recognition could do to your privacy. The creators of the app claimed that—within seconds—you could find anyone’s Facebook profile by uploading a picture of their face. Essentially, FindFace for Facebook.

While such an app violates Facebook’s privacy policies, Facebook itself uses facial recognition powered search to identify people in photos (unless you disabled the feature). And presumably, Facebook’s face search engine is better than the FBI’s identification tool. Why? Because you’ve been voluntarily stuffing Facebook’s database with a huge variety of photos, all helping its AI improve faster than the FBI could ever dream of. And it’s all legal. You can’t always hide your face, but you can protect your privacy online.

If you have an iPhone, check out these reverse image search tools The 10 Best Reverse Image Search Apps for iPhone and Android The 10 Best Reverse Image Search Apps for iPhone and Android Reverse image search lets you learn more about any image. Here are the best image search apps and websites for Android and iOS. Read More for more revealing discoveries.

Image Credit: Zapp2Photo/Shutterstock

Explore more about: Face Recognition, Image Search, Web Search.

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  1. Max
    December 5, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Yandex reverse image search is wayyyyyy better than google.

  2. Isac
    March 10, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    I really like your articles and "tips".
    Keep doing the good job!

  3. kees
    September 12, 2017 at 11:34 am

    adding "&imgtype=face" without quotes, makes no difference whatsoever.
    But maybe you were a bit unclear on where to add it. If you upload a pic to google and hit enter, it comnes back with some matches and a best guess like 'hair' or 'bikini'or whatever. adding &imgtype=face behind the enormeously long URL makes no difference whatsoever

  4. Sam Rothberg
    March 21, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    If only google would allow access to its face recognition databases, also the extremely advanced point to point measuring algo's, If they have it all I see no reason not to give access to the public, at least at some limited level, accuracy is at 99.99 percent currently for reasonable resolution, doesnt even have to be straight on face forward photo either, of course with the right amount of research you can ID anyone, but say you have a strange person you've spotted several times and you would just like to know if they are a threat or just someone who has the same patterns as you might, its not justified to notify authorities, but a little information could give you peace of mind, or if they did seem suspicious then you could proceed to take some sort of action and you would have data to make better informed decisions, Names, Criminal Backgrounds, that sort of public information should be available and easily searchable through a public face recognition database, it could be restricted to hide identities of those who have sensitive jobs or reason to be protected. Access would be logged so the system would be difficult to abuse by criminals themselves. For those who have been victimized or stalked, they could have much earlier taken action by knowing who the person was, if they had criminal history etc. Without public access, you can either go to the police and possibly waste their time, but more likely you would just pass it off as coincidence and do nothing which could end up in a home invasion, identity theft, harassment, or even a violent crime that could be avoided, Just thoughts, Its something that should be considered, for example the Sex Offender Database and Mapping has probably prevented many crimes because the general public is able to know who and where the bad people are at, this is also a huge deterrent to potential criminals because they know that they can be caught or thwarted if they try and commit and future offenses. Public Safety is what we pay for, and an ounce of prevention and awareness goes a long way, it should be up to every citizen to access information of importance and make the best decisions they can, once you can determine someone is out of place, or is definitely suspicious then law enforcement is where you take the information to, but say the same car drives by 12 times at night, you cant really jump to conclusions, but if you could find his name, ask the neighbors if they notice anything odd, or find a criminal background, then you would be justified in saying something. I had this same case happen, about 2 months later they arrested him for stealing scrap out of peoples yards. I'm sure many instances similar and worse could have been resolved much faster with a little more public information, I hate being a nosy neighbor and definitely respect privacy, but general information should be accessible without involving the police, there has to be some sort of compromise between privacy, safety, and awareness. Send me a reply if anyone has any thoughts of counterpoints on the subject, I like to try and promote discussion and explore issues of importance, clearly there is always room for improvement and revision to the current system. I think most law enforcement would agree that most individuals are capable of making good decisions and if at any point they are needed (immediate threat, or moderately strange activity), its a citizens obligation to turn all the information over at that point. Neighborhood watches are great in my opinion too, the more eyes and ears you have, the better, I made it a point to introduce myself to everyone on my street, exchanged phone numbers, and we all agreed that if something seemed out of the ordinary we would let each other know, it was very uplifting to know that 95+ percent agreed and felt the same as myself, suburban areas with less dense population seem to be areas where crime is increasing, anyway I ranted, but I hope at least someone reads this and takes it to heart, or at least replies .. . :)

    • Tina
      March 28, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      Hey Sam,

      I did read your comment, although the wall of text you left up there almost made me skip the comment. :)

      I see your point and at the same time I'm not sure I agree. I'm German and we have a troubled history in terms of privacy, especially in East Germany (Stasi). In the end, all information will also be misused, which is why privacy is so important. The US (NSA) already collects more data than the Stasi ever could. We don't need a comprehensive record of our data, including photos or other biometric data, available online to the public.

      I'm also not sure it's fair to publish criminal records, especially if the offender served their time. The system should focus on helping criminals become good members of society, rather than ruining their chance of ever living a normal life again. They should be able to contribute to society again and not be stigmatized for life. Of course the same (and more) should be done for the victims!

      Apparently Sweden is a model we should all look to: they have to shut down prisons because their rehabilitation program works wonders. Obviously, they don't have a death penalty; no European country does.

      • Virginia Albin
        November 20, 2016 at 11:30 am

        Just really love your comment above!

      • Barrett Abney
        January 24, 2017 at 6:21 pm

        Tina, you actually set up the argument against your own points.
        If the NSA (government) already HAS the very complete, personal database, then your privacy is already NOT safe. If the public also has access to the facial database, then your privacy is not in further danger since it is already compromised by the most dangerous organization on the planet, government. If all people have the same access as the government, then the government should have no access. But that is an impossibility in todays liberally minded day and age.

        • Tina Sieber
          January 25, 2017 at 10:52 am

          I'm not sure I follow your comment, Barrett. Are you saying all information should be public, so that the government cannot cherry-pick the "facts" that serve them? That sounds pretty liberal to me.

        • Barrett Abney
          January 27, 2017 at 9:37 pm

          Tina,
          As long as humans with corrupt hearts are involved, then no one agency or organization should have individual power over information collected about anyone online. Please realize, anything you put online IS public. There is no online privacy. It is a pipe dream to think it exists. So all information is already in the public realm since it is all hackable. The only factor is will it be hacked today or tomorrow or next week...

          So I am saying, do not allow the government to collect and MAKE PRIVATE it's "lists" of information. What they are collecting, how they are collecting it and for what purpose is all moot and you will never be able to change them from doing what they do. But we should all have the same ability to look up a person's face and name in an online, public arena.

    • John
      February 11, 2018 at 1:52 am

      But it can be misused by govt or bad politicians to use camera details of protesters to trace n persecute the protesters. Especially in Asia n third world sick countries.

  5. Athaulla rahemaan
    March 16, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Search the person who looks like me

  6. Ella
    February 25, 2015 at 5:41 am

    apparently I am a 32 year old man (92% Male) I just happen to be a 12 year old girl....

  7. Joy
    February 21, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    What does the show "Catfish" use to find people from photo's?

  8. DevilDog13
    December 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Guy Fawkes masks will become the norm. Use them anywhere you publicly go to keep google off your back. I'm working on a polycarbonate prototye where the facets will reflect light at various angles. For google glass i think motion detection and laser attacks to the camera CCD

    • kevin
      July 8, 2018 at 6:25 am

      I know this is an old thread but I just want to point something out about your comment here. As a photographer it's not unusual for me to be packing a $10,000 DSLR. If I'm just taking a photo of a crowd in the public domain and not singling you out, I am NOT invading your privacy. However, if you "laser" found my CMOS sensor and fried it, I would quickly be seeking compensation for that.

      But that's the least of my concerns here. This is a DSLR with a mirror into a Pentaprism through which I may well be viewing a magnified image. Your laser could very well fry my EYE!

      And for what? Do you know how many times a photo by a photojournalist has been used to capture the wrongdoings of government officials towards innocent protestors?

      Clearly you haven't thought this through.

  9. Crystal(RB)
    June 11, 2010 at 3:05 am

    According to Pictriev, My 25 yr old tomboy self is 85% male and approximately 60 years old.
    Strangely enough, that explains a lot
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  10. Crystal(RB)
    June 11, 2010 at 1:05 am

    According to Pictriev, My 25 yr old tomboy self is 85% male and approximately 60 years old.
    Strangely enough, that explains a lot
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  11. Stacy
    June 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    These are pretty cool - I'll have to test Pictriev!

  12. Flavio
    May 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Come on PicTriev... thanks for making me look like Kevin Costner and a couple of other "good looking guys", but 45 years old when everyone tells me I look younger was not fair! :o)

    • Tina
      May 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm

      Try a few other pictures to fix the age. But then you may end up being matched to Danny DeVito. ;)

  13. SK
    May 23, 2010 at 4:14 am

    Its really good one

  14. Tina
    May 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Well, looks like the technology is not very advanced, yet. At least not the one they are offering for free. Could be a good thing.

  15. Elliott
    May 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    If it makes you feel any better - I had equally dodgy results from PicTriev (although it made me 100% male - it also made me 50 instead of the 30 I was in the photo!) and didn't find any matching photos (there are loads of photos of me online).

    I tried photos of my daughter and my ex and didn't find photos of them online either

  16. Elliott
    May 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    If it makes you feel any better - I had equally dodgy results from PicTriev (although it made me 100% male - it also made me 50 instead of the 30 I was in the photo!) and didn't find any matching photos (there are loads of photos of me online).

    I tried photos of my daughter and my ex and didn't find photos of them online either

    • Tina
      May 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm

      Well, looks like the technology is not very advanced, yet. At least not the one they are offering for free. Could be a good thing.

  17. Nat Jay
    May 21, 2010 at 6:17 am

    Viewdle looks like the best of the lot here, though I find the concept of face search both intriguing and a little intrusive.

    Of course, for research and background check, these are useful tools. Specially in law enforcement, government jobs, and the media & entertainment industries.

    On a related note, I like those fun apps that show how you might age over time (given a current picture), or to let others know how you used to look like say in school.

    • Sam Rothberg
      March 21, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Check my comment below, I agree with what your saying, its a fine line and a difficult subject all around, let me know if there are flaws in my logic, im always trying to form better opinions and stances of privacy / security issues, they seem to be the main debate of this time period, but I think there is a balance that can be acheived, Thanks

  18. Nat Jay
    May 21, 2010 at 4:17 am

    Viewdle looks like the best of the lot here, though I find the concept of face search both intriguing and a little intrusive.

    Of course, for research and background check, these are useful tools. Specially in law enforcement, government jobs, and the media & entertainment industries.

    On a related note, I like those fun apps that show how you might age over time (given a current picture), or to let others know how you used to look like say in school.