ViSenze is a Singapore based start-up looking to change the way we use computer vision. That doesn’t mean Terminator style augmented reality, but rather using your smartphone to change the way you shop.
Their series A funding round raised them a healthy 3.5 Million USD to play with, and the results have been remarkable. Now they’ve bagged an additional $10.5 million, led by Rakuten Ventures, venture capital firm Enspire Capital, and perhaps most excitingly WI Harper Group, which focuses on US-China cross-border investment.
Visual Search Becomes A Reality
Their core product is a visual search and image recognition software that combines computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to finally create a usable image based search function – something Google tired years ago and failed pretty miserably at.
People can use their smartphone to take a picture and find products that match it online.
The app has immediately offered a new and novel approach to retailers, allowing people to take a picture of an item in a magazine, or even just worn by someone in the street, to enable matching and recommendations of products that are available for sale.
Consumer Facing, Business Focused
They have gone on record as saying their focus is business-to-business. They’re not developing an independent, consumer focused app as yet, instead seeing their product as added value for existing retailers and advertisers. But never say never. They are already using huge volumes of user data to optimize their product – who knows what new opportunities they’re identifying in the process.
The company’s RnD department has 30 people already, but the funding will enable them to boost this number to 50. The business end also sounds positive, with a 300% year on year growth reported so far, with CEO Oliver Tan reporting a 20% increase month on month right now.
Motion Picture Search
The company’s most exciting project is integrating their tools into motion picture search. With 25 images a second or more in the typical streaming video, there are some sampling and processing challenges to be overcome, but the potential upside is gargantuan.
The internet is leaning more heavily into video every day, and augmented, unobstrusive, opt-in advertising could be a huge winner for premium streaming services and free sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
The company currently has their sights set on China. This might seem crazy to some, but certainly not to one of their lead investors, who specialize in getting companies into the Chinese and US markets.
Customers and Competition
There are some big names, some small names, and some local names in the game so far. Heavyweights Rakuten are the lead investors as well as the first customers, while Lazada, Asos in the UK and Myntra in India are all on board already. Indian e-commerce store Flipkart is also in the game.
They have heavyweights like Cortexica and Superfish to contend with, both of which appear to have more funding. But the connections and strategy for the Singapore company mean they’re more globally focused than anyone else right now.