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Google acquires image-recognition startup Jetpac

Jetpac's City Guides app offers personalized recommendations based on photo attributes like smiles, lipsticks, and blue skies. Google has other plans, though: the app will disappear in a month.

Google acquires Jetpac

Google has acquired Jetpac, makers of an app that recommends destinations based on an analysis of publicly shared Instagram photos.

"We're joining Google," the company said on its Web page. "We look forward to working on exciting projects with our colleagues at Google." Jetpac will remove its apps from Apple's App Store on September 15, the company added.

The Jetpac employees will join Google's Knowledge team, which is attempting to build a more sophisticated understanding of the real world into search results.

It's not clear exactly what Google will do with Jetpac's technology for finding things like popular bars and scenic vistas, but the startup has several technologies that mesh with Google's priorities. First, its technology works automatically, extracting information from large numbers of publicly available photos instead of relying on curation or other human processes. Google's search algorithms use the same broad approach to analyzing the Web, working at a scale and speed impossible for humans.

Second, Jetpac's 6,000 resulting City Guides are designed to offer customized geographic information -- the kind of thing that meshes well with Google's effort to become a personal electronic assistant through services such as Google Now, Google+, and Google Maps.

Jetpac City Guides technology uses image recognition to spot attributes like hipster moustaches that people might be steer people toward particular destinations.
Jetpac City Guides technology uses image recognition to spot attributes like hipster moustaches that might steer people toward particular destinations. Jetpac

Google declined to comment on the terms of the deal, which was announced Friday.

Jetpac also offers two related image-recognition apps, Spotter and Deep Belief.

Updated at 7:50 a.m. PT with Google comment.