Show HN: Search icons visually


87 points | by yantrams 196 days ago


  • andai 195 days ago

    It knows what a face looks like!

    • smnscu 195 days ago

      It didn't do so well on my most used Slack emoji

      • yantrams 195 days ago

        Ah yes. This has to do with the thresholding 'bug' I discovered sometime ago. I will update the algorithm soon. Happens with color images in the preprocessing stage during the conversion of query image to a binary image, especially in images with flat/palette colours.

        I eventually came up with a contrived set of heuristics to tackle this problem as you can see in the example below and managed to get more get accurate thresholding more than 90% of the times for pathological cases like these with the right set of weights. ---

        • k4r1 195 days ago

          Well it did suggest 2 icons of presumably corporate scrum meetings...

        • yantrams 195 days ago

          Good one. Frameworthy this! Thank you.

        • yantrams 196 days ago

          Author here. Happy to answer any questions, hear feedback.

          • soneca 195 days ago

            I spent some time confused by the animated running horse and how it was supposed to be related with the other icons. Until I found out that it was the loading gif.

            I would change there for something more standard.

            • dessant 195 days ago

              I found the running horse to be an adoring touch. The author's site is also worth checking out:


              • soneca 195 days ago

                I believe if it would be both adorable and more easily understandable if it was a smaller image, giving a visual hint that is fulfills the role of an icon, not a featured image

              • Normal_gaussian 195 days ago

                It was the other way for me, I linked it to the duckduckgo icon svg and the horse started. I thought it was a loading animation (and took more than a few seconds) so I threw it to another monitor and continued reading HN.

                ...30 minutes later the horse is still running and I'm like 'wtf? what does a horse have to do with the DDG logo?' close tab. read comments...

                It turns out the app doesn't handle svg (it is actually in the to do list) and returned a 500, but the failure was never presented to the user.

                • yantrams 195 days ago

                  Ouch. Sorry to have put you through that :/ I will fix it asap. And I agree with the parent too. Maybe some text below the horse that says fetching results... would make things clearer.

                  • Normal_gaussian 195 days ago

                    haha, no bother, we all know whats up here; I'm just busy bikeshedding.

                    Massive kudos for delivering; I like it a lot :D

            • pizza 195 days ago

              It would be cool if you could draw an icon instead of uploading/linking one, like how Google Translate lets you draw characters

              • yantrams 195 days ago

                Great idea. I'll definitely look into it. Thanks for the suggestion. Cheers

              • peterburkimsher 195 days ago

                Nice idea! I did a similar but different project for 32x32 icons.


                Please help yourself to my icon data - I spent a while collecting it and hope it can be useful to someone!

              • slig 195 days ago

                Hi, how did you source the whole noun project icon collection?

                • yantrams 195 days ago

                  I scraped it from their website and then asked for their permission by sharing this link with them. They appreciated that I linked all the icons to their website and gave their consent to make this public.

                  • slig 193 days ago

                    Ah, I see. I was hoping there was an archive to download somewhere. Thanks!

                • amelius 195 days ago

                  How do/would you measure the accuracy of the algorithm?

                  • yantrams 195 days ago

                    The MPEG-7 dataset[0] is what most researchers use to benchmark shape similarity algorithms. There are couple of other datasets that I used that I can't recollect now. These datasets are relatively simple with a single shape as opposed to logos, icons that comprise multiple elements in different configurations.

                    I would test on the MPEG-7 dataset to begin with and once the precision and recall values are good enough go ahead with testing on logos and icons. I must've manually tested the algorithm more than a 100,000 times probably because that was the only way to do with untagged datasets. Quite tedious indeed. This version gives out pretty decent results about 7-8 out of 10 times I'd say.

                    [0] -

                  • sansnomme 195 days ago

                    Traditional algorithms or ML? Image vectors?

                    • yantrams 195 days ago

                      Traditional algorithms and image vectors. I used a conconction of existing region and contour based techniques and threw in some original ideas as well.

                    • Raphael 195 days ago

                      One way is to scale the images down and threshold to black and white. At smaller scale they should be identical or much closer.

                  • amyboyd 195 days ago

                    I tried with 2 icons I custom created.

                    The first one (the arrow into the door) seems to have worked well for the first three 'similar icons'.

                    The second one (remove user) didn't work at all. Maybe because it is circled.

                    In both cases, half the similar icons are 'download' icons, and I can kind of see why for the first case but not at all for the second case.

                    • yantrams 195 days ago

                      I suspect it has to do with the lower resolution. I'm using nearest neighbors interpolation for resizing images and have noticed similar behaviour before. Would be great if you can try with higher resolution versions(preferably > 200px) of the same images and let me know the results.

                      A closer inspection of the results actually shows some of the results aren't that bad a match. Results ordered 1, 4, 5, 7 and 7 in particular vaguely have the same outline as that of the query image. If I have to score this result, I wouldn't give it more than a 3 out of 10 for sure.

                      • amyboyd 195 days ago

                        I just realised the "download" icons aren't meant to be "similar icons"... they allow you to download the one above. Doh!

                        I've re-tried the "remove user" one but uploaded an SVG instead of a PNG (so technically the resolution is unlimited). Uploaded it both circled and not circled.

                        Here are the results:

                        • yantrams 195 days ago

                          :) Please feel free to share the SVGs. I will convert them to PNGs and test them out. I will add SVG support real soon. Right now I've put an exception handler that passes an empty array as query if an image format that can't be decoded is thrown at it :|

                          • amyboyd 195 days ago

                            Sure - is your email If you don't want to post your email publicly, can you email and I'll reply with both SVGs + PNGs.

                            I actually uploaded SVGs so I think you might already (unintentionally) support SVGs?

                        • amyboyd 195 days ago

                          Also tried this "in-out" icon. I can kinda see how the algorithm got the results. Happy to send you a bunch of SVGs if want for testing BTW.


                        • some1else 195 days ago

                          Tried to get the icon recognized and discovered it works best with black on white:

                        • yantrams 195 days ago

                          Improved results using icons with higher resolution, for those who are following this conversation and waiting with bated breath :)



                          • Nashooo 195 days ago

                            > In both cases, half the similar icons are 'download' icons

                            Those seem to be actual download buttons where you can download the found similar icon.

                          • system2 195 days ago

                            No results were shown after: reddit, google, ycombinator. Your site is not secure. (SSL) There is a broken-image sign after search and no warning.

                            • yantrams 195 days ago

                              If you are referring to entering those words in the searchbox, yes I should've put in some warnings/checks there to enter a valid image URL. Will fix it soon. And yes I should make the site secure too. Thanks for letting me know.

                              PS: You can explore company logos here . It's implemented using an older iteration of the algorithm and performance isn't that great compared to the one used with the icons database.

                            • ilrwbwrkhv 195 days ago

                              super cool man... great use of telugu and other iconography.. you are a cultural icon in the digital space...

                              • yantrams 195 days ago

                                Glad you liked it and wow are you sure you are not confusing me with someone else ? :) I have a suspicion you are mistaking with Anil Battula from maybe.

                                Speaking of Telugu, I recently got hold of a treasure trove(about 700GB) of scanned copies of Telugu magazines and newspapers some of them as old as 1880! Gonna upload them on very soon.