Visual Search technology and collection browsing

If you have a Pinterest account you probably observed that recently a novel search technology was introduced that complements the normal text search: it is a image recognition search tool that lets you select an object in an image and gives you search results with similar objects. The new visual search tool is powered by deep learning technologies, based on artificial intelligence software, very powerful in image (as well in voice) recognition. It’s not the first time when big companies are trying to use it for discovery (Google) but also for shopping (Amazon) or for face recognition (Facebook).

What is so new about it? One application in the library world: while looking for a book review, I came across the University of Gent Library’s account on Pinterest. They organised their collection per subjects and users and made a display of book covers with some short descriptions that creates valuable exposure to their collection. The visual search tool introduced by Pinterest adds to the traditional search text: starting with the premise that the cover is an expression of the book content, the user has the possibility to search through similar covers, based on visual elements from the book cover.

Try the visual search tool on their book covers and see the results for yourself.

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