Explained: Know all about visual search and how different platforms use it

Most internet users are familiar with text and voice searches which they use while browsing across multiple search engines and social media platforms. Meanwhile, another type of web searching known as visual search is also available for users. This form of searching the web is comparatively less used despite being around for many years. Multiple popular search engines and social media platforms like — Google, Bing, Snapchat, Amazon and others offer visual searches with their services. In 2018, research conducted by a US-based artificial intelligence company ViSenze concluded that 62% of millennials (in the UK and US) preferred visual search over all other search types. Here we will discuss what visual search is and how websites can use this form of web searching for its benefits.
Visual search: What is it
Visual search uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help users search for different objects using real-world images instead of text inputs. For example, whenever a user captures the image of an object using Google Lens, the software identifies the object in the picture and offers information and search results for the same. This technology is particularly helpful for e-commerce platforms and other online stores.
Visual search: How does it work
A combination of computer vision and machine learning technology is used for the seamless functioning of the visual search feature. Apart from allowing the device to see the image, computer vision also helps the system to interpret what is in the picture. After identifying the object in the picture, your device decides how to use the information.

Computer vision technology has also been around for a long-time, however, the advancement in machine learning technology allowed it to be used for visual searches. To explain further, computer vision relies on machine learning to identify the object that is presented within the image.
In the case of Google Lens, the technology cross-references its information with the Google Knowledge Graph to identify the object in the picture. Moreover, other platforms also have dedicated software to support their versions of image recognition technology.
Visual search: How do different platforms use it?
The visual search functionalities slightly vary across major platforms. Users tend to use each platform with different needs on their minds which ranges from — shopping to information retrieval among others. For example, the visual search from Google and Bing is primarily used for information, however, users can still use this feature on these platforms for shopping as well.
Google Lens
Google Lens is the most popular visual search platform in the world as it offers advanced search capabilities. This technology is available in multiple Android apps including — Google Assistant, Search, Translate and Photos. A 2019 study revealed that Google’s image recognition technology was more accurate than several other major visual search platforms.
Bing visual search
Unlike Pinterest Lens, Bing’s visual search offers users information along with products. Whenever Bing detects shopping intent, it provides users with associated products and pricing information. Moreover, this platform allows developers to determine what information the search engine will show people from a particular image.

Snapchat Camera Search
The Snapchat Camera Search feature started allowing users to search for products on Amazon using the app in 2018. An Amazon card with a link for the specific product or a list of similar items from the e-tailer appears whenever the app identifies a barcode.
Amazon StyleSnap
This feature is available within the Amazon mobile app. Whenever users take pictures of products using this functionality, they are presented with relevant information and similar products.

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