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Pinterest introduces Lens, a Shazam for objects in the real world

Pinterest introduces Lens, a Shazam for objects in the real world


New, more visual search

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Pinterest today introduced Lens, a new visual search tool that uses machine vision to detect objects in the real world and suggest related items on the service. Lens, which is now in beta, is a tool inside the Pinterest mobile app that functions as a kind of Shazam for objects. Point it at food, furniture, or even the night sky, and Pinterest will return objects that it believes are related.

In a demonstration, Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp used Lens to detect a pomegranate. Pinterest returned results for pomegranate bread, pomegranate sandwiches, and tips for peeling pomegranates. He described a second use of Lens in which a boy held his phone to the night sky, and Pinterest returned a variety of nighttime landscape photos. “It lets your eyes do the searching,” Sharp said.

The introduction of Lens has led Pinterest to create a new kind of search result that shows you objects in context, the company said. If you use it to capture a clock, for example, search results would show you pictures of rooms where the clock was part of the decor. Similarly, Lens used on a sweater would show you that sweater styled in different ways, Pinterest said.

Lens builds on underlying visual search technology that Pinterest introduced in November 2015. It’s part of a suite of updates to search today that the company announced at an event in San Francisco. Related pins can now be found by tapping on a circle in the bottom-right corner of each pin. And the company also introduced “Shop the Look,” a tool that identifies items in pins that can be bought and offers you links to make the purchase.

Shop the Look uses a combination of machine learning and human curation, Pinterest said. It’s currently available for brands including CB2, Macy’s, Target, Neiman Marcus, and Wayfair.

Lens is rolling out today on iOS and Android in the United States.