Pinterest is refining its relevance capabilities with acquisition of startup company VisualGraph, an image recognition and visual search platform. Many speculate this move not only primes Pinterest to be a premier image search engine, but also an ideal environment for advertising.
Today, Pinterest's search functionality relies heavily on user-generated text and organization of images into categories. And it works well, but it's not always the most relevant. For example, a search for [tuxedo] returns the following:
VisualGraph was co-founded by former Googler Kevin Jing who worked on Google's first image processing application back in 2004. VisualGraph will help Pinterest with image recognition beyond the standard classification by users. The two-man operation at VisualGraph will join Pinterest as part of 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," Jing said in an announcement. "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."
VisualGraph gives examples of how its technology helps make sense of images; not least of which include cars, fashion, and textured objects.
This screenshot, courtesy of CNET, shows VisualGraph in action:
It's no secret Pinterest is working on its monetization strategy. This move could be one more step in delivering relevant ads to users in the future, perhaps starting with its "promoted pins" offering. It'll no doubt also aid in Pinterest's "related pins" feature.
VisualGraph will be Pinterest's fourth acquisition, and one of many strategic partnerships it has leveraged to integrate itself into the daily life of web users everywhere.