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On Our Radar: Visual Search Engine Superfish

Lijo_Joseph_100x100With so many new, exciting companies entering the digital advertising scene every day, it’s hard to keep track. That’s why we’ve created “On Our Radar,” a recurring column that highlights a company we’re watching, what it does, and why it should be on your radar, too.

Who are we talking about?
Superfish.

What is so unique about them?
Superfish is a visual search engine that initiates an image search using image-to-image search technology rather than the text-to-image search approach used by your leading search engines.

They have leveraged their patented visual search technology to roll out a series of “LikeThat” apps that help users find pets, décor or flowers that match a particular image that a user submits. For example, if you want to adopt a dog in your area that looks like one you already have or a friend has, you can submit your photo via LikeThat Pets, and it will show you results for adoptable dogs in your area that match the look of that dog. If you don’t have a photo to use on your phone’s camera roll, you can utilize the LikeThat Pets sample gallery.

Similarly, LikeThat Garden allows you to take pictures to identify flowers, while LikeThat Decor helps connect users with furniture items to bring their decorating visions to life.

Why should you care?
With a little imagination, the underlying image-to-image search technology from Superfish could be used by several brands to make their own apps more interesting. For example, a real-estate company could help potential home buyers find similar looking homes in a specific neighborhood by using an image a house they may have happened to drive by in a neighboring town.

Who is their competition?
In the retail space, companies such as Amazon are using image to image search via the firefly app to help consumer find products by scanning an item.

What does their future look like?
The concept of images as a medium of communication has gained popularity among younger audiences, as evident from the success of platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. It is very likely that Superfish could end up powering search results for a platform like Pinterest or a major retailer app, or possibly even be acquired by one of the big boys in search or retail.

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