Recently I started reading Ambient Findability by Peter Morville. So far it is a an excellent read on information architecture and wayfinding. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0596007655/findability-20/). As I read the book, it strikes me how utterly dependent we have become on text and knowing the right words or combination of words to find what we are searching for when interacting with the web. We have all experienced this, we are searching from something and we find very little but later come to realize that we did not have the best keyword to yield the results we were searching for. If we focus on creating the best user experience possible, this will most likely include the ability for users to search items with more than just the perfect keywords or through a winding path of linked ideas. What about searching through key images or visual represetations of our desired topic? I conducted a search (using text of course) and found the following link with terrific references to visual search engines available today.
After quickly finding this page, I sit with the question, why are these visual search engines not in the mainstream search options? Google, the Godfather of search engines has incorporated visual aids such as the Wonder Wheel and Timeline to assist searchers with visual and semantic information but they have not created anything yet that is similar to the visual search engines on this page.