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Visual Search Engine Launched

Visual computing firm Riya on Wednesday launched, a visual search engine that allows consumers to search for products by appearance rather than just text, via a collection of celebrity fashion photos.

Riya's "Likeness Search" makes it easier to find hard-to-describe items online, the company said. When a user clicks on a photo of an item, will compare that item's shape, color and texture to millions of similar items' images found on the web and display the best matches. The first 10,000 shoppers will receive free shipping on their first purchase from any of the site's featured retailers.

Launched in beta, initially focuses on several shopping categories - handbags, jewelry, shoes, and watches - allowing users to search and purchase items from leading and boutique brands from various retailers, including Amazon, eLuxury,, Lands' End, ShoeBuy and Zappos. is adding new inventory at a rate of 30,000 items a day and will add more shopping categories, such as clothing and home decor, the company said.

"A picture is worth a thousand words, and it is much easier to shop and search by clicking on pictures than by typing complex search terms," said company CEO and co-founder, Munjal Shah. " is the first major new innovation to come to the world of image search in the last five years. Now, web searchers will no longer have to rely on the tags that may or may not be attached to a given photo or product image."

Unlike other image search technologies, which use words attached to photos in order to generate search results,'s visual search looks inside the photo and creates a digital signature that describes the photo's content and enables a more accurate search for similar-looking items, according to Riya.

"Like will revolutionize the way consumers shop for products online, enabling the next-generation of online shopping. truly allows consumers to window shop on the web and see a great selection of products that match their tastes," added Shah.

Riya, founded in August 2004, has a score of patents pending in the areas of visual recognition and search. The firm has raised $19.5 million from venture and private equity investors, including Bay Partners, BlueRun Ventures, and Leapfrog Ventures.


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