Pintrest introduces visual search tool

Posted on November 11, 2015


Photo sharing website Pintrest has added a new tool for people who don’t know how to put into words what it is they want to look for.

Its answer is a new visual search capability, which allows users to focus on particular objects in pictures- or “pins” – and then find things related to those items.

It works by using a ‘magnifying glass’; for example, should a user want to search for a hat from another person’s picture, they can use the magnifying glass feature to zoom in and crop the image, which will return results that are visually similar. The search can be refined further by adding keywords.

The new tech works by creating a “similarity score” of countless images, and enables accurate returns within seconds using deep learning, which teaches computers to recognise patterns and similarities within huge sets of data, and categorise them.

A software engineer on the company’s visual discovery team, Andrew Zhai, said:

“There are dozens of interesting items within a Pin’s image; we want to give Pinners a tool to learn more about these items.

“By specifying a part of the image you’re interested in using a cropping tool, we can recommend visually similar results in real time.”

This is the latest in a series of changes to be incorporated by the company this year. Earlier in 2015, it removed trackers on its pins, redirects and affiliate links to pave the way for buyable pins. The company, which was formed in 2010, told its user base that this was to keep the site running smoothly and quickly.

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