Google shows art of the acquisition by buying PlinkArt

12 Apr 2010

Google has acquired the Irish-incorporated, Oxford-based start-up, Plink, maker of the popular visual search app for Android PlinkArt, for an undisclosed sum.

PlinkArt allows mobile users to take a picture of any piece of art and it automatically conducts a search and produces a result.

The company’s technology will be utilised by Google to work with its visual search technology Google Goggles which similarly allows users to take a photo on their Android smart phones and it automatically searches for information.

PlinkArt is a company that is a mere four months old and has already attracted a mobile internet following of some 50,000 users. It is Google’s first acquisition of an Irish company. The company was started by two students Mark Cummins and James Philbin.

Google company goal

It is Google’s strategic ambition to buy a new company at least once a month.

“We started Plink to bring the power of visual search to everyone, and we’re delighted to be taking a big step towards that goal today,” Cummins and Philbin said on their blog.

“Google has already shown that it’s serious about investing in this space with Google Goggles, and for the Plink team the opportunity to take our algorithms to Google scale was just too exciting to pass up.

“For Plink as a company, it’s been a short but exciting ride – only four months since our public launch. We shot past 50,000 users in just four short weeks, and we’ve continued to get great feedback and suggestions over the months since then. For all our users: nothing is changing.

“PlinkArt will continue to be available for download and work as it currently does today. However, we won’t be updating the app and will instead focus our development efforts on Google Goggles, so you’ll see new functionality appearing there in the future.

“The visual search engines of today can do some pretty cool things, but they still have a long long way to go. We’re looking forward to helping the Goggles team build a visual search engine that works not just for paintings or book covers, but for everything you see around you.

“There are beautiful things to be done with computer vision – it’s going to be a lot of fun!”

By John Kennedy

Photo: PlinkArt works by conducting a search and producing a result on a photo of artwork that mobile users have shot on their phones

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years