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Pinterest Buys Image Recognition Firm VisualGraph

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Acquisition looks to boost the image recognition capabilities of Pinterest’s search facilities

Content sharing website Pinterest has announced that it has acquired VisualGraph, a San Francisco-based start-up company which makes image recognition and visual search technology, for an undisclosed amount.

VisualGraph, a company currently made up of only two people, founder Kevin Jing and colleague David Liu, confirmed the news in a blog post.The two will now move to join Pinterest’s engineering unit, where Jing will be leading Pinterest’s new visual discovery team. He has previous experience working for a technology titan, having started working at Google in 2004, where he helped build some of the company’s first machine vision applications. Liu, meanwhile, worked at several major companies, including both Google and Facebook, before joining VisualGraph.

visualgraphlogo Pinterest acquisitionExpanding its search

According to recent estimates, Pinterest is valued at over $3bn, and has recently introduced several new features to its service, including the introduction of ‘pins’ for interesting articles and places. This acquisition will mean that it gains enhancements to the visual image search system that it has always touted as its core strengths.

Pinterest already offers a search tool on the platform, but as it doesn’t currently use any tagging features, it relies on captions from users on its images to work out what’s in the picture. VisualGraph’s technology could therefore allow Pinterest to build out its search feature to return results that aren’t clearly marked. The site could then use these findings to create more targeted ads for users, which means more revenue from advertisers.

“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 of the new relationship.

“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 itself may have to change its name at some point. British firm Premium Interest has successfully claimed prior ownership of the Pinterest trademark in Europe

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