Vodafone has been showing off its picture driven search Otello at CeBIT, but a snap of German Chancellor Angel Merkel left the mobile network red-faced.

Otello works when users input not a word but a photo to a search engine – which in theory should make identifying the latest Hollywood starlet or national monument a cinch. Pictures are submitted via MMS from mobile phones – with Otello feeding back information to the handset.

Mystifying Merkel

However, when Chancellor Merkel tried out the system, she was mystified to find that she was not recognised – reportedly commenting “that’s a major gap”.

The system will receive an even greater public trial on Monday when readers of Bild – Germany’s biggest tabloid – can send in photos of specific stories to get extra information. That bonus material is believed to be video content and photos.