Google Buys (and Riya, Too)

Google acquired, a product search engine that used visual search to find similar products. “We were the first to bring visual search to shopping, the first to build an automated cross-matching system for clothing, and more,” says Munjal Shah, the former CEO of Riya, the company that developed

Riya launched in 2005 an impressive software that used face recognition to organize photos. “Riya leveraged facial and text recognition technology with an intelligent interface to help people make sense of the thousands of untitled and untagged photos that are building up on their hard drives.” Google launched a similar service 4 years later, using technology from Neven Vision.

Much like Google Wave, Riya’s software looked great in demos, but it didn’t work well in the real world. The software required a huge collection of photos and each photo had to be uploaded to Riya’s servers. “The process is slow; Riya says it takes about 24 hours to upload 4,000 pictures,” mentioned the USA Today at that time.

Apparently, Google intended to buy Riya in 2005, but decided to acquire Neven Vision, a company that had a lot of patents on face recognition, photo analysis, visual mobile search. Neven Vision’s acquisition helped Google add face recognition to Picasa, advanced features to Google Image Search and visual search to Android.

Why would Google acquire Riya? Probably because the company has many patents on visual recognition and a lot of talented engineers that could work on bigger projects than In 2006, Riya planned to launch a visual search engine with support for object recognition, but the company didn’t find a way to monetize the product, so it focused on product search, which was more lucrative. Now the team can finally build Riya 2.0:

{ via TechCrunch }