German photo-sharing app EyeEm is launching an advanced new photo search tool that will allow companies to search for thousands of different objects and categories contained within images through the use of artificial intelligence and computer vision technology.
For years EyeEm has been seen as a European rival to Instagram. Users can take and share photos within the app, as well as editing them with filters.
The biggest difference between EyeEm and Instagram, though, is that EyeEm can be used to sell photographs to companies and advertisers.
Now, EyeEm is launching a new feature called EyeVision which is a powerful search engine for photos. EyeVision can “see” inside photos to find out what they contain, meaning that you can find a photo of a boat even if the photo isn’t tagged or captioned with “boat.” That’s going to be useful for companies that pay to licence photographs taken by EyeEm users.
EyeEm CTO Ramzi Rizk showed Business Insider EyeVision ahead of its official launch. He explained that users will be able to use EyeVision to generate tags for their photos on EyeEm. That’s not just a time-saving feature — the system can suggest tags that will be useful to brands and agencies searching for photos, so users could earn more money from the site.
EyeVision also ranks photos according to their aesthetic rank, meaning that brands searching for photos to licence can see the most beautiful photos for any search. Rizk explained that EyeVision will launch on desktop first, but will eventually roll out across EyeEm’s apps.
The development of EyeVision began in 2014 when EyeEm acquired computer vision and machine learning startup Sight.io. Sight.io had developed technology which improved the way people search for photos, and TechCrunch reported that stock photo sites were interested in the company. EyeEm also hired data scientists from Yahoo to join the team working on EyeVision.
Rizk explained that EyeEm’s first test for its new photo search engine was whether it could recognise dogs. Once it could reliably identify different breeds of dogs, they moved onto other subjects. Now the system can see 500,000 measurements per photo.
EyeEm has been beta testing EyeVision with a group of active photographers who regularly use the app in order to make sure that they like the experience. Clearly, EyeVision is a boost for users, as well as a handy tool for brands wanting to find photos to use. Will EyeEm consider licensing the technology out to other companies? Rizk told Business Insider that EyeEm “isn’t opposed” to it, but only as long as the use of the technology would add value to photographers.
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