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from the L.A. Times

Google acquires visual-search company Plink

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Google has acquired Plink, the owner of PlinkArt, a visual-search engine that uses pictures to help users look for content on the Web.Plink

With the PlinkArt application, Android-based mobile-phone owners can snap a picture of an artwork and have the app analyze the artwork, identify it and retrieve information about it from the Web. According to the application's developer, it has attracted about 50,000 users since its launch four weeks ago.

Plink's founders said they will now work for Google Inc. on its Goggles service, which enables users to take pictures from an Android-based device and search Google for information on the content in those images. Neither Plink nor Google revealed other terms of the deal.

Although it might sound odd that Google would acquire a mobile-app developer, the company did so for Plink's technology. Visual search is quickly becoming a highly coveted part of the search market, enabling users to search the Web through the help of images, rather than text. Some believe that it has the possibility of becoming a more effective search technique than text-based queries. With Plink's help, Google ostensibly believes, it can push its visual-search efforts forward.

But before that happens, Google and its competitors need to work on making visual search more effective. It isn't so reliable right now, and many of the queries related to images fail to adequately address a user's questions.

Visual search has a long way to go before it can rival text-based searching, but watch that space going forward. With improvements, it could change the way we interact with search engines.

--Don Reisinger

Image: A picture of Plink in action. Credit: Plink

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