Pinterest is ready to take its image search engine to the next step. Today, they went after two ex-Googlers who created Google’s reverse image search and created their own startup, Visual Graph.
Pinterest knows that its users are curating and sharing billions of images everyday. Regular search engines were created to search text based keywords. Pinterest is different and requires a totally different type of technology to be able to understand its users and create a monetization strategy.
In the past, Pinterest’s internal search engine was dependent on textual cues like alt text, words in the image link, and image metadata, to identify photos. However, spammer took advantage of this and were able to highjack their search engine and stuff images with keywords so they show up at the top of search results.
Pinterest has not disclosed the amount of the acquisition, but did share some details about what the VisualGraph’s Kevin Jing and David Liu will be doing. Jing will be heading the company’s new “visual discovery team,”. Jing and Liu have experience in object recognition, distributed search and machine learning, which, when combined, make searching for photos by context much easier. As Pinterest continues to expand its content, smart search is key to keeping the platform usable.
Here is what Jing and Liu wrote on their website about the acquisition:
On Pinterest, millions of people are curating and sharing billions of Pins everyday. And these Pins are more than just images — they link to contents that can inspire and enrich people’s lives. We are excited for the opportunity to combine machine vision with human vision and curation, and to build a visual discovery experience that is both aesthetically appealing and immensely useful for people everywhere.
Visual Graph has developed technology to identify objects depicted in images, including skirts, purses, and cars. Face recognition at Visual Graph, is on par with that at Facebook and Google. The end goal is to organize these images into graphs categorized by the objects they include.
How is Visual Graph is going to change Pinterest?
If Pinterest were to apply the technology behind Visualy Graph into their platform, then as a pinner, you don’t have to post description, title, or tags for each pin. Visual Graph will be able to understand your pin and categorize it and recommend other pins that are relevant. At the same time, with all this data Pinterest now has, the company can monetize on it and display relevant ads that can capture your interest.