How do you find your online music?The future of online media searches is changing. Instead of using keywords to hunt down video or music files, several pioneering software developers are creating ways to search for music with music, and images with another image. The consequences of these paradigm shifts could be staggering. Like.com and Polar Rose are two companies doing just this.

This is (very generally) how the current system works: When you use your favorite web browser to search for an image or video, you are not actually searching for that video or image. You are searching for common key words, much like text searches. The drawback to this type of search method is that it requires web publishers to annotate their online content correctly. This is not always done, or done sufficiently. The end result is that your search will capture many images that have nothing to do with your subject query, while leaving many near-perfect matches floating in the ether. The same thing happens when searching for MP3 tracks, podcasts, and other sound files.

Pioneers like Ojos and Polar Rose are addressing this very problem. Ojos recently released riya, an innovative photo file-sharing program. Instead of using keywords and tags to identify photos, riya (www.riya.com) uses face recognition. Show riya what your mom or sister (or totally un-related female) looks like, and it’ll tag the images for you. It’s surprisingly accurate. This face-recognition technology, which also identifies in-picture objects and words, can hopefully be used for web-wide image searches.

Right now, alpha-stage shopping engine sites like Like.com are the only manifestations of this idea. There you select a photo of an object you wish to shop for, and like.com (www.like.com) finds all sorts of similar projects. A similar audio equivalent is Pandora, a brainchild of the Music Genome Project, a collection of “musicians and music-loving technologists” (their own words). Pandora analyzes songs from over 10,000 artists, carefully identifying the musical makeup of each track. Based on the types of music and artists that you like, Pandora can construct an all-new playlist of songs to suit your tastes. This is far from a true media search engine, but it’s a step in the right direction!