What is Visual Search Engine? How does it work? How does it use Image Recognition? This blog will explore it all. 

“The future of search will be about pictures rather than keywords”

 - Pinterest CEO, Ben Silbermann.

Imagine that you saw a flower, a very pretty flower but sadly you don’t know the name of it. And, neither does anybody besides you. So, what will you do? How will you ask google or Wikipedia or Bing or any other search engine about it? What will you type in the search box? Don’t worry! Technology has got you covered again? All you need to do is click a picture and upload it on an application which will give you all the information about or related to it. Here, I am talking about the Visual Search Engine that has been made possible using Image recognition. 

What is Visual Search Engine?

Wikipedia defines Visual Search Engine as 

“a search engine designed to search for information on the World Wide Web through the input of an image or a search engine with a visual display of the search results. Information may consist of web pages, locations, other images and other types of documents. This type of search engine is mostly used to search on the mobile Internet through an image of an unknown object.”

How does it work or optimises Image Recognition?

Visual search uses images as keywords as opposed to texts and searches for related images, websites, blogs or any other posts. Visual Search Engine is programmed in a manner that it bridges the time gap between your search. Utilising the Image recognition APIs the search engine performs the following functions:

  • Step-1: The application will open the user’s camera and will request the user to click or select a picture from the gallery to which the user wants to gather more information. 

  • Step-2: Then, the image will be sent to the server, whereupon the Image Recognition APIs will perform certain functions like identifying, analysing and comparing the texture, shape and colour of the image with the other results stored in the data. 

  • Step-3: After all the comparison has been done, the search engine or the centralised trained computer machine will create a page of matching results and display the same results to the user. 

Which industrial sector can leverage the most out of it? 

Let’s say, you saw somebody carrying a mind-boggling backpack on a street and now you want to order that too for yourself. How much time do you think it will take you to search for the right keyword in the search engine? Sometimes it just takes a few seconds and sometimes it becomes tedious enough that you shut the app off or leave the page empty-handed. But if you had these visual search engine applications all you had to do was take an image of it and just by clicking a picture of it or uploading it on the application you have the results there on your screen. And, after this, you just need to place the order! Hallelujah! How convenient it will be for you to quickly get done with your shopping. 

Therefore, any retail business engaged in online shopping business or to say e-commerce for sure will benefit from this application and get scalable results. 

Brands that are already benefiting from it:

Amazon leverage visual search

Amazon’s search tool known as scout helps the users to narrow down the search results and usually provides the results which the user wants to show. They launched their visual search engine in 2011 though many users are still unaware of it. 

ebay leverage visual search

Apart from their visual search tool for shopping purposes, eBay’s visual search tool launched a special feature that allows the car owners to upload a picture of their car and look for the car parts or other tools that are needed to fix the damages. The tool proved a benefit for the people who have a low vocabulary in terms of auto parts. 

forever21 uses visual search engine

Entitled as “Discover your Style”, Forever 21 launched its visual search engine in their mobile application to make the user’s shopping experience pleasant. And, as it was expected the online business boosted with 20% though at that time the tool was only applicable to dresses and tops section.  

Marks & Spencers uses visual search engine

AI-powered visual search engine tool “Style Finder” was introduced by Marks & Spencer to enhance their customer experience. Jim Cruickshank, head of digital product and UX at Marks & Spencer told paparazzi about the visual search engine tool: "We know our customers are busier than ever and are often most inspired when they're out and about. Style Finder helps customers instantly find what they're looking for, without the need to manually search and filter through our products,...” 

Platforms that have introduced Visual Search Engine 

Google lens is a visual search engine tool

Google has always been a frontrunner in terms of keeping up with the technology. And it was no surprise that Google came up with Google Lens or to precisely say “search by image”. The application allows the users to look for objects through the lens and get similar results as per their image search. 

Pinterest allows visual search on their application

Pinterest with their visual search tool has not only boosted their users but has boosted the business of many online traders; especially of those who are engaged in fashion and home decor. When the user doesn’t have words the smartphone comes to the rescue and helps the user to find what they are looking for via images. 

snapchat too is using visual search engine in their application

Snapchat collaborated with Amazon and now the Snapchat visual search tool will help you find what you are looking for directly in your snap. All the user needs to do is press down on an object in snapchat’s camera and a thumbnail will appear on the screen that opens amazon’s page or website on it. 

Bing’s visual search engine tool was launched on 21 June 2018. The application works in the same manner as others and opens the camera to click a picture or further results. It helps you to find out the website with similar information and also helps you in your shopping experience. Apart from android and IoS users, the application is also available for Microsoft Launcher (Android). 


Visual Search Engine has proven to be fruitful for any business that opted for it. This AI-powered software/ application utilising Image recognition has created wonders for many online business owners. And, it can opine that this technology will only increase with time and in a few years will become a part of our daily web searches as well.