Image search company Riya has applied its matching technology to a new fashion shopping site called Like. The idea is that you if you find a fashion item you like -- a particular handbag, pair of shoes, watch or jewelry -- the search engine will find related products by examining the actual image. You can keyword search, browse products or browse items worn by celebrities to get matches.
I love watches, so I gave it a spin. In particular, I have a large collection of Swatches. So, I started off to see what swatches would bring back. I got plenty of matches, and a "Hawaii" swatch on the first page caught my eye.
Clicking on it brought up a new page, allowing me to pick what I liked the most about it in degrees using sliders, for these criteria:
It was the pattern more than anything else, so I kicked that slider up. The results changed, bringing up mainly heart monitoring watches first. Not what I wanted!
Next I tried browse mode. I was able to drill into the analog round matches, but none of these were to my fancy.
Now it was time for what's clearly the hype factor -- search for something that a celebrity is wearing. The gallery has only two men, and while I have little in common with either Diddy or Brad Pitt, I went the Brad route. One shot of him was when he was wearing a watch, so I clicked on that.
A page came up with watches similar to what he had. Was this image matching magic? Preset examples always make me wary -- they typically have been refined and fine-tuned. Even if not, I don't know that I need image matching technology to easily find watches like he was wearing. Here -- see accessories like those worn by Cameron Diaz, no image search required.
The real test will be when, as Somewhat Frank says, you'll be able to upload images of your own and do searches. Or, you can play with searches of the many existing images and see how it goes. I wasn't blown away by it, but I only did the few queries above. Another product, another search, perhaps it would be great. It's certainly worth trying and keeping in mind.
Riya's Like.com Is First True Visual Image Search at TechCrunch talks about the background, the idea that Riya is a leading company trying to match images based on images, rather than words. Riya's received lots of attention over the past year for its technology, but it's notable that so far, the company doesn't seem to have had much financial success. This type of matching is the third direction it has now gone in.
First, Riya seemed targeted to help you upload photos of people and do face recognition to find others. Then Google was rumored to be interested, though that never went through. Google later acquired another image recognition company, Neven Vision.
Riya shifted to being a web image search service, which remains running at Riya.com. The current focus on fashion products is tied to where Riya says users were most interested. ZDNet has more on this. You can also check out CEO Munjal Shah's blog for background.
Need another review? The Wall Street Journal takes a look for paid subscribers in Where to Find a Famous Look and seems mostly happy.
Like the idea? Here are some reports of shopping search engines with matching features you might like: