Pinterest Launches New Visual Search Tool

Tim Maytom

Social blogging service Pinterest is looking to upgrade its search functionality to match its newly expanded shopping capabilities, introducing a visual search option to support its image-heavy interface and enable users to explore similar products.

When users spot an item they wish to learn more about, whether it's a whole image or an element within one, they can use the search tool to select the part of the Pin they are interested in, and the app will present similar items also on Pinterest.

The tool works in real-time, enabling users to explore multiple items within a single image, and can provide users with information including where items can be purchased. The function will work in conjunction with Pinterest's Buyable Pins function, letting users buy an object straight away if its retailer has bought one of the service's 60m sponsored Pins.

The tool is rolling out across mobile and web simultaneously, and could provide designers, manufacturers and brands with a new way of reaching potential customers through the popular network, which is increasingly focusing on ways to monetise its content.

"Sometimes you spot something you really love on Pinterest, but you don't know how to find it in real life or what it's even called," said Kevin Jing, engineering manager at Pinterest. "There's that perfect lamp hiding in a Pin of someone's living room, or maybe a random street style shot with the exact shoes you're looking for. We've got a new tool that lets you find all those things you don't have the words to describe."