NUS’ ViSenze and Rakuten to create visual search driven e-commerce in Taiwan
By Digital News Asia July 5, 2013
- ViSenze technology to power Fashion Finder application on two Rakuten sites
- App allows users to search and buy similar fashion items they see on the sites and elsewhere
SINGAPORE-based ViSenze Pte Ltd said it has partnered with Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba Inc, a subsidiary of Japan e-commerce giant Rakuten Group, to launch a visual fashion search and recognition service on the latter’s social and shopping sites in Taiwan.
ViSenze is a company spun off from the National University of Singapore (NUS) that develops intelligent visual tools which provide visual search, match and recommendation functions on web and mobile platforms.
Under the partnership, ViSenze’s technology will power the Fashion Finder application (pic) on two sites (http://www.oshare.com.tw/ and www.rakuten.com.tw/event/funsearch), the NUS company said in a statement.
This application allows users to search and buy similar fashion items that they see on the sites, from user-generated photos and from user-uploaded images, which could be taken from fashion websites or e-magazines.
“Rakuten is always on the lookout for like-minded partners and innovative technologies to accelerate our business,” said Rakuten Asia senior executive officer and CEO Toru Shimada.
“We are very excited to embark on this promising partnership with ViSenze, as we truly believe the new retail experience, powered by the Internet, is characterised by discovery.
“Rakuten looks forward to offering this unique feature to our customers in other parts of Asia and beyond,” he added.
Yuichi Ejiri, executive officer at Rakuten and chief executive officer of Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba Inc, said: “We are all about offering personalised, online fashion discovery experiences to our customers, so Oshare and the new visual-powered form of e-commerce with Rakuten Fashion Finder will do just that.”
“With just a click, our shoppers can now search what they want to buy with images instead of words. They can also find out where to buy what their favourite celebrities are wearing or carrying,” he added.
ViSenze said its visual search and recognition technology is engineered to help digital businesses in e-commerce, online advertising, affiliate marketing as well as social networks.
Highlights of its technology include:
- Similarity Search enables e-commerce companies to let their customers find what they are looking for more efficiently. When online shoppers browse the merchandise, they are subtly recommended visually similar items, based on category, style, colour, pattern – increasing the chances of converting discovery browsing into purchases.
- Intelligent image matching tool allows users to upload photos from websites and e-magazines to find clothing, bags, shoes and accessories similar to those worn by their favourite celebrities, or to upload a picture of their desired fashion item and find the same or similar products.
- Visual-contextual application helps advertising networks and exchanges analyse how online users engage with visual content on the web, in order to render contextual advertisements, or to re-target consumers with an advertisement based on images previously viewed.
- ViSenze said its cloud based multi-platform technology enables the above services to be made available to users on-the-go, at any time and from anywhere, on web, mobile or social networking sites.
ViSenze claimed its technology is different from those offered by other visual search companies as it can recognise a wide range of key objects in images and isolate them from a cluttered image background for more targeted analysis and matching.
This means that ViSenze is able to handle different types of images, including those with complex backgrounds, as well as also perform accurate recognition and matching to visually related or similar products.
This capability enables the company to deploy its technology quickly to different verticals, through rapid and adaptive machine-aided learning techniques, and generate intelligent visual driven business analytics to help enterprise clients make sense of how their visual assets are used, the company claimed.
In addition to Rakuten, ViSenze’s cloud based technology has also been deployed on Singapore-based Clozette (www.clozette.co), a fashion social shopping network that is using ViSenze’s technology to offer ‘find and buy similar’ recommendation for fashion items.
“ViSenze aims to unlock the intelligence in visual content and create innovative visual search applications for different businesses across different platforms,” said its chief executive officer Oliver Tan.
“We have started developing new solutions for other verticals such as automotive and consumer electronics. Additionally, we are developing a contextual visual search driven recommendation engine and expanding our visual based analytics capability,” he added.
ViSenze’s search and recognition technology was originally developed by the NUS-Tsinghua Extreme Search Centre (NExT), a research centre jointly established by NUS and Tsinghua University of China.
The company was founded in 2012 by Roger Yuen, a seasoned entrepreneur who serves as its non-executive chairman; Tan, who left the corporate world to serve as its full time CEO; Professor Chua Tat Seng, the current co-director of NExT who also serves as a non-executive scientific advisor to ViSenze; and Dr Li Guangda, the chief technology officer, who was the lead visual recognition researcher at NeXT.
ViSenze also employs three other members of the original NExT team that developed the technology.
“We are delighted to see such innovative technologies, which began their lives in an NUS laboratory setting, commercialising successfully to solve real-world challenges,” said Dr Lily Chan, chief executive officer of NUS Enterprise, the university’s initiative that aims to provide an enterprise dimension to its teaching and research.
“I am also encouraged that a number of NUS faculty members have … joined ViSenze as this demonstrates their entrepreneurial spirit and commitment in creating intelligent search solutions for digital businesses around the world,” she added.
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