Pinterest introduces visual search

    Pinterest introduces visual search

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    Since the beginning of this week Pinterest has changed the way we will perceive searching for content. An awesome new visual search tool is implemented that lets you start searching with the use of images – not words. So next time you don’t know how to express yourself or you don’t know what the name of that object is, you can just point to it on the image where you see it.

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    How does this work? Basically, start with a pin where you see something that drew your attention. From now on, there’s a little square icon with a magnifying glass in the top right corner. It works a bit sluggish and you need to click precisely on the icon and not on the picture – otherwise it will redirect you to the source of the pin.

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    Click on this photo to start the animation

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    After clicking, the pin will reopen with the square that you can point at a particular object and resize it. What happens is, immediately on the right hand side suggested pins will appear.

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    You can keep on scrolling down to see if the pins match your query or you can select from the tags that show up above.

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    I tested it myself – what do you think of the results?

    Now we’ve got a new tool that lets you find all those things you don’t have the words to describe.


    You’re probably wondering how it works from the backend and why other search engines haven’t used it before. The clue lays in Pinterest’s tagging feature – a lot of content is discovered and matched due to tags. Images that show on the right hand side appear based on the similarity score between the two images:

    To find visually similar results for a Pin, we consider the similarity scores of a given feature to billions of other features. In order to do this task efficiently, we built a distributed index and search system (using open-source tools) that allows us to scale to billions of images and find thousands of visually similar results in a fraction of a second.

    Pinterest Developers’ blog.

    This new functionality was built in cooperation with members from Berkeley Vision and Learning Center. I’m very happy about this news, because the tool has been rolled out globally. This means, I can also test it immediately, without the feeling of regret that I’m not based in San Francisco 🙂

    How do you like it? Have you tried this new Pinterest tool yet? Let me know what you think and if you managed to find new pins faster!