Google Buys Visual Search Engine

Google buys, whose visual search engine helps people match clothes and other apparel online and purchase them from retailers.

Google confirmed Aug. 20 it has acquired, whose visual search engine helps people match clothes and other apparel online and purchase them from retailers.

Financial terms were not disclosed, though TechCrunch said the deal is in the neighborhood of $100 million. CEO and founder Munjal Shah announced the deal on the home page Aug. 20. A Google spokesperson told eWEEK, "We're pleased and excited to welcome to Google, where they'll work closely with our commerce team."

Search engines such as Google and Microsoft's Bing and e-commerce sites such as do a fine job surfacing products such as books, electronics and DVDs, commonly bought online based on reviews and ratings. said it employs computer vision and machine learning technology to peddle "soft goods" or those that are purchased based on a consumer's personal style and "whether the item matches an outfit to current trends and opinions of the fashion elite."

"With that in mind, we've developed technology that lets us understand visually what terms like 'red high-heeled pumps' and 'floral patterned sleeveless dress' mean and created algorithms to understand whether those pumps complement or clash with that dress."

In effect, Google has acquired a visual search engine for fashionistas. While Google won't say what it plans to do with the technology, the Google spokesperson dropped hints in this statement:

"While will operate its Websites separately in the near term, we're excited about the technology they've built and the domain expertise they'll bring to Google as we continue to work on building great e-commerce experiences for our users, advertisers and partners."'s technology could be applied to Google's Product Search comparison shopping Website, which is in beta, or Google's Commerce Search engine for retailers.

What is certain is Google is investing mightily in computer vision technology, which enables visual search, for the desktop and mobile device.

Google in April acquired visual art search engine Plink. This technology is being used to fortify Google Goggles, the mobile visual search application Google launched earlier this year.

Goggles, whose creator Hartmut Neven sold his company Neven Vision to Google in 2006, lets users search for information about objects and locations by snapping pictures with their smartphone camera.

Google's venture capital arm also invested in Pixazza, which helps Web users purchase products they see in photos on Websites.