Filter Image Browsing: Interactive Image Retrieval by Using Database Overviews

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Human-computer interaction is a decisive factor in effective content-based access to large image repositories. In current image retrieval systems the user refines his query by selecting example images from a relevance ranking. Since the top ranked images are all similar, user feedback often results in rearrangement of the presented images only.For better incorporation of user interaction in the retrieval process, we have developed the Filter Image Browsing method. It also uses feedback through image selection. However, it is based on differences between images rather than similarities. Filter Image Browsing presents overviews of relevant parts of the database to users. Through interaction users then zoom in on parts of the image collection. By repeatedly limiting the information space, the user quickly ends up with a small amount of relevant images. The method can easily be extended for the retrieval of multimedia objects.For evaluation of the Filter Image Browsing retrieval concept, a user simulation is applied to a pictorial database containing 10,000 images acquired from the World Wide Web by a search robot. The simulation incorporates uncertainty in the definition of the information need by users. Results show Filter Image Browsing outperforms plain interactive similarity ranking in required effort from the user. Also, the method produces predictable results for retrieval sessions, so that the user quickly knows if a successful session is possible at all. Furthermore, the simulations show the overview techniques are suited for applications such as hand-held devices where screen space is limited.

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