Pinterest purchases image-recognition company to improve search

The company has pinned down the assets of VisualGraph and is starting a new visual-discovery team.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Pinterest has purchased the talent and technology behind VisualGraph, a two-person startup building image recognition and visual search tools. The deal was announced Monday, though terms were not disclosed.

"The acquisition of VisualGraph will help us build technology to better understand what people are pinning," a company spokesperson told CNET. "By doing so, we hope to make it easier for people to find the things they love."

Kevin Jing and David Liu, VisualGraph's two employees, are joining Pinterest's engineering team. Jing, a former Googler, will be heading up Pinterest's new "visual discovery team."

"We are excited for the opportunity to combine machine vision with human vision and curation, and to build a visual discovery experience that is both aesthetically appealing and immensely useful for people everywhere," Jing and Liu said in a statement posted to the VisualGraph Web site.

VisualGraph's image recognition technology detects faces, bodies, cars, and objects. Screenshot/Jennifer Van Grove/CNET

According to the company's site, VisualGraph's technology is especially adept at identifying faces, cars, fashion, textured objects, and bodies in photos. That technology would seemingly be able to help Pinterest understand the content contained in pins and, in turn, help it return better results for members' queries.

Founded in 2013, VisualGraph had been previously available to a small number of people. The service was recently shut down, the Pinterest spokesperson said.

Update, 10:35 a.m. PT:Adds info on VisualGraph.

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