Have you heard about Pinterest’s new Lens feature? The website giant’s newest visual search tool allows users to get more information about cool things they see in real life by searching via photograph.
Getting to know Pinterest Lens
Pinterest unveiled their new visual discovery tools on their blog back in February, and has been beta testing them since. Among the new features is the ability for users to perform a Pinterest search by taking a photo of a real life object. This can be done in real time or with saved images that you already have on your mobile device (this feature is currently only available on iOS and Android).
See an outfit you wish you had or a dining set that you adore? Just snap a photo of it with the Pinterest interface and you’ll get search results related to that image. As The Verge so aptly puts it, it’s like “a Shazam for objects in the real world.”
To see just how well the Lens feature worked, we tested it out for ourselves.
Putting it into action
If other Pinterest users are anything like me, whenever they eat a delicious meal at a restaurant they want to know how they can recreate it at home. My first Lens search was for a delicious bowl of gnocchi in tomato sauce that I had recently ate at Undici. Could Pinterest Lens really tell me how to make this tasty dish? Well, short answer … no. While it was able to successfully come up with the relevant search term “tomatoes,” the system was convinced that it was looking at a soup and, delivered an assortment of soup recipes as a result. To be fair, the image does make the dish look rather soup-like, so I can’t fault Lens too much for its reasoning. Looks like your secret recipe is safe for now, Undici.
Pinterest also happens to be one of the most beloved platforms for fashion enthusiasts, so my next question was how well it was able to detect and search for fashion pieces and accessories. I snapped a photo of my bag to see if Pinterest Lens was able to find a close copy or even the exact match of it. This time, Pinterest did a better job of figuring out what it was looking at and what I was looking for.
The keywords that Pinterest was able to come up with were much more relevant than that of my previous search. “Handbags,” “purses,” “shoulder bags,” “leather,” and “crossbody bags” are all applicable to the image, and the resulting search results were pretty spot on: the top results all show black cross-body purses.
As my final search, I look up something that pretty much everyone can appreciate—dogs. I pulled up a photo of a canine friend that recently visited the Name.com office and plugged it into the Lens search. And I have to say, the result was pretty impressive.
Although Pinterest was not able to list the exact dog breed in its search results, the top images are the same breed as my coworker’s dog. That’s pretty awesome. The keywords themselves? Not quite as awesome. “Dogs” works, as does the misspelled “puppys” (sort of), but its clear that the visual search is better at identifying the correct dog breed compared to the generated keywords.
Our final thoughts
Pinterest Lens is by no means perfect, and there’s still a lot of work to be done before it is able to deliver the exact information that people are looking for when they perform an image search. But it leaves a memorable first impression, and its visual search is already pretty incredible.
Beta testers are still being chosen at random, so Pinterest users should keep an eye out for an email invitation if you’re interested in trying it out yourself.
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