The social photo bookmarking site announced on Monday its acquisition of two-person start-up VisualGraph that specialises in visual search technology. VisualGraph’s founder Kevin Jing and colleague David Liu will become engineers for Pinterest, heading up Pinterest’s “visual discovery team.”
A Pinterest spokesperson said in a statement: “The acquisition of VisualGraph will help us build technology to better understand what people are Pinning. By doing so, we hope to make it easier for people to find the things they love.”
When with Google, Jing developed its initial machine vision technology as a senior research scientist. Liu, who recently completed a master’s degree program in computer science at Stanford, interned at Google.
The duo announced on the VisualGraph website: “On Pinterest, millions of people are curating and sharing billions of Pins every day. 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.”
Pinterest, founded in 2010, offers unique features for commercial advertisers, a fact that Pinterest is only beginning to exploit. Users gather and pin photos, images of retail items, and recipes to personal boards. Some brands include pinnable products on their web pages so that users can post the products directly to their boards. They are also beginning to post more promotional content on Pinterest.
VisualGraph’s image-recognition technology will help Pinterest interpret and analyse the billions of images Pinterest users pin each day. This will enable Pinterest to integrate more with outside businesses. Users are likely to be introduced to enhanced search capabilities. VisualGraph’s technology combines machine vision and learning with distributed search.
Jing and Liu added on the VisualGraph website: “While a single image can captivate and inspire, a network of connected images allows for inspiration, exploration and discovery at scale.” VisualGraph joins three other acquisitions Pinterest has made within the last year, including a recipe site and a mobile recommendation application.