Riya, a fledgling site for organizing and searching photos that has enjoyed early popularity, is developing a search engine that will let users find digital photos across the Web by recognizing similarities in images.
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A face like no other
Since the site launched in March, Riya users have uploaded more than 7 million photos to its servers, where they have remotely trained the system to recognize images and tag them. A user with hundreds of family photos can categorize them by members. The search engine will expand this ability beyond the Riya site. "Many people really wanted the ability to search the Web for all the pictures of them or a person that looks similar to another person," Shah said.
The technology may not be limited to consumer fun. Riya's image search engine could appeal to marketing and advertising companies, Susquehanna Financial Group equity analyst Malindi Davies says. "If you have a more efficient way to tag or recognize objects in photographs that's less human-capital intensive, that's a great technology for stock-image companies like Getty Images, Jupiterimages, or Corbis Photos," Davies says. Riya received $15 million in a second round of venture capital funding from Bay Partners earlier this year.
But while Riya's approach is unique, it faces competition from established photo-search sites, including Yahoo's Flickr and Google's Image Search.