Google has acquired the UK-based visual search engine company Plink, which makes PlinkArt, a mobile app that lets users take a picture with their phone and identify paintings and artworks. Google is adding Plink to work on its Google Goggles project.
Google introduced Goggles as a Google Labs project back in December. It was cool from the get go, but the potential it displayed was far greater than the actual functionality. The addition of Plink will allow Google to expand on that functionality. Google Goggles lets you search Google using pictures from your camera phone. They take an image as input, and using "several image recognition backends," such as object recognition, OCR, face matching, etc. Goggles returns relevant results (at least in theory). It even lets users get local business information without even taking a picture. For that, it uses GPS and compass data.
"We started Plink to bring the power of visual search to everyone, and we’re delighted to be taking a big step towards that goal today," say founders Mark Cummins and James Philbin. "Google has already shown that it’s serious about investing in this space with Google Goggles, and for the Plink team the opportunity to take our algorithms to Google-scale was just too exciting to pass up."
"The visual search engines of today can do some pretty cool things, but they still have a long long way to go," the pair add. "We’re looking forward to helping the Goggles team build a visual search engine that works not just for paintings or book covers, but for everything you see around you. There are beautiful things to be done with computer vision – it’s going to be a lot of fun!"
PlinkArt will still be available for download and will continue to work, but the company will no longer be updating it. They will instead focus all thier efforts on Google Goggles.
Financial terms of the Plink acquisition have not been disclosed.