Flickr / Photo by sue seecof.

Pinterest’s New Lens Feature is the Future

With 150 million Pinterest users across the globe, Pinterest knows it must continue innovating to avoid the risk of losing users, especially with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat continuously evolving. However, Pinterest may have just launched a new visual discovery feature that will not only raise them up above their competitors, but will also take us into the future. It’s called, Lens. This feature will allow users to take pictures of things from within the app so that Pinterest can identify the item in the photo and make recommendations for similar things and how to bring the idea, style or recipe to life.

Pinterest released a visual search tool towards the end of 2015, and if that wasn’t cool enough, they had to go evolve that feature with object detection. Pinterest has made great strides on advancing computer vision and machine learning to expand visual similarity. Lens is the result of their innovation.

How to Use Lens
Within the search tab, users will see a red dot with a camera icon at the top right of the screen, next to the search bar. When you click on that, your camera opens and you can take a picture of whatever it is you would like to visually discover more of. Then Pinterest magically displays recommended results similar to what you searched for. 

Search Fashion
I like to look nice, but I’m not a natural fashionista so I oftentimes have trouble putting together outfits from the mismatched hodgepodge of what’s in my closet. However, with Lens, I can now take a picture of an item in my closet and instantly get recommendations on things to wear with it. Not only that, but Lens will also recommend other similar pieces of clothing that I might like. In the end, the fact that Lens can offer great fashion advice will certainly build my confidence since I’ll know my outfits are determined by someone (or something with more knowledge) other than myself.

Search Recipes
Another reason I’m excited to use Lens is because I already save numerous recipes on Pinterest that I happen to find from the Picked for You Pins. However, most of those recipes just sit on my foodie board waiting to be made because I either forget they’re there, or I’m simply too lazy to go to the store to buy all the ingredients. Now, for the moment I’ve been waiting for….recipe recommendations based on a food item. And the best part is that I just have to snap a picture of, let’s say a watermelon, in the Pinterest app using the Lens feature and it will automatically generate similar watermelon posts and recipes that contain this key ingredient. Voila! I now have a fun, new recipe to make with a watermelon.

Search Home Décor
Last by not least, the third reason I’ll be using Lens is because I recently bought a house and I’m still trying to fix it up. I love that I can go to a furniture store and take a picture of a couch using Lens, and Pinterest will offer room-décor ideas on how to design a room around that piece of furniture. Plus, if I take a picture of a sweet wall clock I see at my friend’s house, then Pinterest will offer similar clock recommendations that I might be interested in.

Ongoing Improvements
It’s important to note that Lens is still in its BETA phase, but it’s constantly updating as more people use it.  Pinterest claims they will continue improving this technology to better recognize a wider range of objects, which should produce better visual search results. As it is, Pinterest is powering their visual discovery engine with 100 billion pins saved by 150 million people around the world. Yeah, that’s quite a testing ground. To me, it’s obvious that the object detection software that Pinterest has developed with Lens is astonishing and it will only get better from here.

In fact, after testing out the new Lens feature myself, I found that the home décor and recipe recommendations are more or less on point, but the fashion search still needs a few more improvements. When I took a picture of a pair of shoes, Lens offered up additional shoes that looked similar to the ones in my photo. However, I did not receive any recommendations on what clothing items to wear with them. I know this feature is still being developed, but it’s the one I’m most excited about so I hope Pinterest reaches this point soon.

Flickr / Photo by sue seecof.