Google is rumored to be looking at bringing augmented reality to its camera app. If true, the company would leverage technology from Google Goggles thereby allowing you to see relevant search results like nearby restaurants, transit information, and recommended retailers to purchase items. Details given to Android Authority through an anonymous source state that the integration would include a new feature “allowing users to outline specific areas of the image in order to directly target their searches. This would be an improvement on Google Goggles since the previous iteration only allowed you to search the whole image. Reports also indicate that “this technology has also been tested in “wearable computing devices”. This could suggest this technology may come to products like Google Glass and possibly even VR (or AR) headsets.” Google Goggles launched in 2009 as a visual search technology app, but after a few years the company stopped updating
Superfish, a visual search startup focused on e-commerce and product searches, has raised $10 million in its fourth round of funding.
Unlike visual search startup Leap2, Superfish doesn’t want to go head to head with Google and Bing for general search results. Instead, it focuses on specialized results inside apps. The company claims its search engine can analyze images and provide real-time results without the need for text or human input. (Notably, Google offers this in a way with its own image search.)
The company can help businesses in the shopping space connect better with consumers in an increasingly photo-based web, says Adi Pinhas, cofounder and CEO of Superfish.
“Our investors recognized very early that our visual search technology has the potential to change the way people discover and engage with images online, and how tightly what we are working on is aligned with the future of image discovery and sharing,” Pinhas told us via email. “We have built a healthy revenue stream by solving visual search for shopping, and the next step is to evolve beyond e-commerce and apply this search technology towards consumer applications.”
Vintage Investment Partners led the new funding, with participation of prior investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Tamir Fishman. Superfish last raised $4 million back in Nov. 2010. Including the new round, Superfish has raised $19.3 million to date.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Superfish was founded in 2006.
Filed under: Deals
There aren’t many U.S. startups trying to reinvent search, and there’s a good reason for that. Google owns 67 percent of the market in the U.S., while smaller players like Bing and Yahoo fight for scraps.
But Kansas City, Kan.-based search startup Leap2 doesn’t seem to care that Google owns the market and knows exactly where it stands.
“Everybody wants to try to beat Google,” Leap2 director of product Tyler VanWinkle told me at the company’s Google Fiber-equipped office space. “Is that a reality for us? Probably not. Let’s get real about that. … Google is really, really good at what Google does. They are good at PageRank and pulling up relevant articles. We feel like we’re doing something completely different from what Google is doing.”
While some might think Leap2 is already admitting defeat to the Google leviathan, let’s pull back a little.
Leap2 is one of a handful of startups making a splash in the quickly growing Kansas City startup scene, which has been given a recent spotlight thanks to Google’s decision to launch Google Fiber first in KC. The company raised $1.6 million back in late April, bringing its total raised to about $2 million.
Just two and a half months ago, Leap2 quietly launched a desktop version. Looking at the desktop app for just a glance, you can see what Leap2 is trying to do. It’s a highly visual, almost Pinterest-like take on web search. And it has been highly influenced by working on mobile search.
A single search on the desktop shows you previews of web pages, images, tweets, and more — all in different sized boxes. Unlike Google, Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo, which focus mostly on text-based initial search results, Leap2 is about giving you a visual guide. For example, a search for “VentureBeat” on Leap2 shows recent articles, logos, tweets, and more.
The engaging visual approach to search is one way Leap2 thinks it can make a mark in search. Another big goals is deliver real-time and social search like no one else. With Google not delivering Twitter results like it used to, Leap2 thinks it has an edge.
“My father would never look at or use Twitter,” Leap2 CEO Mike Farmer said. “But we did a search for ‘Lake Wilson fishing’ and there was a tweet that said, ‘If you want to catch walleye, you need to be fishing at 60 feet of water.’ For him, it’s highly relevant. That’s what you get with Twitter [results].”
Another way Leap2 thinks it will stand out from the pack? Being the search engine of choice for a younger generation that eschews brands that are too big. With teens using Snapchat more than they use Facebook, why not encourage them to try Leap2 instead of Google or Bing?
“The younger generations don’t have the same kind of loyalty we have,” VanWinkle said. “They haven’t been using Google for 15 years. They’re not loyal, frankly. They want something different. They expect it to be dressed, sassy, sexy, bundled up, and highly consumable.”
Farmer said that the company’s has a lot on its plate for the near future. It has plans to add advertising to generate revenue, refine the desktop and mobile products further, develop for new platforms including TV, and potentially raise more funding.
“We’ve started to meet with a few folks and Series A [funding round] is right around the corner,” Farmer said.
Soon, the company will also do something “significant” by further combining search and social results. Farmer kept details close to the chest, but hinted a little at what was coming.
“We’re combining [social and search] in a very significant update,” Farmer said. “We will bring social engagement to search.”
Filed under: Cloud