Category Archives: Online Shopping

Visual Search Is Coming to an Internet near You

A recent article in the MIT Technology Review has caused some people to look at existing technologies in a new way. Search engines have been around for some time now. In fact, they date back to around 1982. And what’s really amazing is that they haven’t really changed much in all that time. As the article points out, they’re mainly focused on taking in text, running it through a database, and outputting results based on keyword matching. The biggest innovations there have come from having actual humans double check the results in order to help machines match questions and answers together. There’s little real intelligence involved, just simple pattern matching.

This is all set to change thanks to a field of artificial intelligence known as deep learning. This is being combined with another technique known as visual search in order to create the next generation of search engine. There’s two things which really sets this new type of search technology apart from existing techniques. The first is that it’s based on visual data such as images or pictures taken with one’s phone. And the second is that it constantly makes use of actual intelligent analysis. Even if that intelligence is of the artificial variety.

Obviously this is a lot more computationally taxing than the current style of simply sending text into a database. But various companies are experimenting with different solutions to the problem of how processor intensive the techniques are. A company called Slyce has one of the most promising takes on it though. They use a method of cloud computing called distributed processing in order to work with deep learning and visual search techniques.

Slyce then created a special API which allows programs to tie into their servers through the Internet. This essentially allows Slyce’s servers to act like a dual core processor. Less powerful devices like smartphones or online catalog systems can handle the taking of and trading off of images. But the actual processing and analysis of that visual data is handled by the virtual processors at Slyce. The end result is systems which can handle visual processing that might well be dozens or even hundreds of times more computationally intense than they would otherwise be able to process. And thanks to the nature of Slyce’s easy to use infrastructure it can be added to almost any existing program.

Slyce Looks To Make Shopping Apps Easier

Last month Yahoo! Finance published an article about one of the biggest visual search company’s, Slyce, and its future products. This is a summary of that article (A link to the original article can be found below).

Slyce is in the business of making smartphone shopping apps better and easier for the consumer to use by allowing them to take photos of products and then pulling up that products product page or the pages of similar products. Slyce currently works with e-commerce heavy weights like JCPenney, Home Depot, Tilly’s and Neiman Marcus.

The article mentions that the company will showcase future releases at the Shop.org event that are currently in beta. Future products will seek to further “boost mobile-based revenue and access consumer intelligence through Big Data enabled analytics”.

Examples were given of the future products Slyce Inc. will offer. They were:

Universal Scanner
Slyce’s Universal Scanner will allow users to scan any barcode, QR Code, coupons or real world image and receive shopping information for it.

Slyce Insights
An industry-first data analytics platform that will allow retailers to look at the history of users visual searches in one place.

Snap-To Coupon
A tool to allow a retailers app users to snap a picture of a coupon; the picture will then be converted into a usable online coupon for the retailers site.

Out-Of-Stock Mitigation Tool
A tool that offers users comparable items if an item they searched for is out-of-stock or no longer available from the retailer.

The article then provides a short bio of the company Slyce Inc. mentioning that it is based in Toronto, CA and which companies they currently serve.