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April 12, 2010

Google Buys Plink to Improve Visual Mobile Search

Google acquired Plink, a small startup that developed Plink Art, an Android application that lets you identify paintings using your mobile phone's camera. Plink Art was one of the winners of the Android Developer Challenge 2. You can find the application in Android's market: just search for [Plink Art].

"The coolest feature of Plink Art is instant art identification. Just snap a photo and if the painting is in our database our visual search system will recognize it and tell you all about it. Currently Plink knows about tens of thousands of famous paintings," explains Plink's website.

I tried the application on my Nexus One by taking photos of Google Image Search results, but the results were terrible. Google Goggles found much better results for the same images.

The two Plink co-founders and only employees will work to improve Google Goggles, a visual search tool that already lets you find books, places and artwork. From Plink's blog:

"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. 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. 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!"

{ via LA Times Blog}

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