Deep learning software has dramatically improved image recognition tools. Pinterest and Shoes.com are testing it out on shoppers.
The Web has changed a lot in the past 20 years, but text search boxes are a constant. Typing text into pixelated oblongs remains a staple of how we interact with websites and mobile apps such as online stores.
Recent advances in image-recognition software are being used to challenge that. The social network Pinterest and the online footwear retailer Shoes.com are testing new ways to search or browse using just images rather than text.
Both companies have turned to a technique known as deep learning, which has recently enabled software to match humans on some benchmarks for image recognition. The technique powers Google’s image search and the photo organization service it launched this summer (see “Google Rolls Out New Automated Helpers”).