Facebook Acquires Visual Shopping Startup GrokStyle
GrokStyle, an AI startup, has just been recently purchased by the social network giant Facebook. The startup helps shoppers find home décor, furniture and other items using artificial intelligence (AI).
According to Facebook spokesperson, the technology and team of the GrokStyle startup will contribute to the AI capabilities of Facebook.
Many experts see this move by Facebook as another sign which shows the social media is further moving towards e-commerce and shopping in 2019.
Facebook has been in constant fight with companies like Apple, Google and Amazon to find and apply the best tech ideas and people to their team. AI technology and startups has always been one of the top priorities to accomplish this goal.
Founded in 2016, GrokStyle is a startup based in San Francisco with visual search being its main specialization. Using the technology developed by it, users could simply take photos with their smartphones in order to be able to search for items such as furniture and decorative items for their homes.
As an example of applying the technology offered by the company in a mobile app, we could mention the augmented reality furniture app of IKEA. As said before, shoppers could use the app in order to visually search for their favorite home decor and furniture items.
Also, some Instagram shopping features have been made possible through the GrokStyle. But, apparently, there are no more clear clues about other places which have used similar shopping experiences.
This purchase by Facebook, which has been made for an undisclosed sum, is particularly interesting since it is building its Messenger augmented reality shopping features as part of developing its own AR platform.
In AR, or augmented reality, while being in real-world environment and seeing it, users interactively experience real objects along with computer generated information which could be in the form of visual objects or even be perceived through other senses.
GrokStyle, could be categorized in the visual shopping app group which has been a newly popular trend in the shopping apps market. These apps aim to enhance online shopping experiences of consumers through providing various visual features which could ease their searching for wanted items.
In most of these apps, users could just snap a photo with their mobile phones or upload a picture of any product from their phone’s gallery to start the search. Shoppers could also use images from other social networking sites such as Instagram to search for products.
These visual shopping apps are part of a wider category which is visual search engines for mobile phones. These apps are very similar to reverse image search by Google, for instance, but with many additional features and advanced options for special uses such as shopping and price comparison.
In addition to online shopping and price comparison, these apps provide much broader range of features including DVD/film poster recognition, address finder and related places, similar or related images and internet search results.
To provide an all-inclusive visual search solution, others might go as far as catalog and barcode scanning technologies with 3D real-world product recognition.
CamFind and Slyce are among the top visual search engine apps which could be used for visual shopping as well.