Skip to main content

Pinterest introduces visual search tool for iOS, Android, and the web

pinterest check tips
Bloomua/Shutterstock
Pinterest’s new visual search tool is like facial recognition … but for furniture. Just as Shazam lets you identify unfamiliar songs that you’re listening to, Pinterest now lets you identify unfamiliar objects, which as any DIY-er or crafter will tell you, absolutely essential to getting your next project off the ground.

As per Pinterest’s blog post about their “crazy-fun new” tool, “When you spot something in a Pin that you want to learn more about, tap the search tool in the corner. Then select the part of the Pin you’re interested in, and we’ll show you Pins just like it. You can even filter your visual search results by topic so you find exactly what you’re looking for.” Not bad, Pinterest.

Recognizing that we sometimes just don’t have the words to describe exactly what we’re looking for, Pinterest hopes that this new sight-driven search tool will serve as “a discovery engine” for its ever-growing user base. “This is building serendipity,” Michael Lopp, Pinterest’s head of engineering, told the Wall Street Journal. But there was little that was serendipitous about the amount of work that went into building this neat new feature — in fact, it took four Pinterest engineers months just to develop the core functionality of the tool, and the team worked closely with the Berkeley Vision and Learning Center in order to use deep learning technology to analyze billions of pins.

Deep learning, a technique commonly used in these sorts of endeavors, teaches computers how to notice patterns and correlations in huge sets of data to help them categorize the information, in this case, based on visual similarity.

“There are dozens of interesting items within a Pin’s image; we want to give Pinners a tool to learn more about these items,” Andrew Zhai, software engineer on Pinterest’s visual discovery team, said in an interview with The Telegraph. “By specifying a part of the image you’re interested in by using a cropping tool, we can recommend visually similar results in real time. We optimize on visual similarity, not just duplicates, to power Pinners to discover exact results, as well as unexpected results that may be similar in style or pattern or shape.”

You can try the visual search tool today for the first time, and while Pinterest notes that, as with any new technology, there may still be some initial difficulties, the company believes that users will be impressed. So pin away, friends. You never know where the tool may lead you.

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
The best history podcasts for Android and iOS
Best history podcasts - Colosseum in Rome

History is an endlessly fascinating and illuminating topic that can tell us a great deal about where we came from, how we got where we are today, and even what might happen next. Too many people are turned off the subject by the limited scope of school history classes, but in enthusiastic and knowledgeable hands, history can be wonderfully entertaining.

In this roundup, we have deep dives into popular events and characters, the past divided into digestible chunks, passionate explorations, academic vigor, and more than a touch of comedy and drama. Sit back, relax, and take a trip through the ages with the best history podcasts.

Read more
What’s the carbon footprint of A.I.? This clever tool breaks it down
brain network on veins illustration

-

Deep-learning A.I. is the machine learning technology that powers everything from cutting-edge natural language processing to machine vision tools. It may also be powering climate change -- as a result of the massive energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with training these deep-learning models. As the use of deep learning has exploded, so has the compute power associated with them, although this effect is rarely studied.

Read more
Facebook starts merging Instagram, Messenger chat features on iOS, Android
Instagram logo

Facebook has apparently started merging the chat services of Instagram and Messenger on mobile devices, following through with a plan that was revealed in early 2019.

For some people, a notification has popped up on the iOS and Android versions of Instagram, offering "a new way to message" while showing the photo-sharing app's icon alongside Messenger's. The notification, which offers users a choice of updating the app, also lists features such as a new colorful design, emoji reactions, swipe to reply, and the option of chatting with friends on Facebook.

Read more