Google Buys Jetpac to Make Image Recognition Soar
It happens all the time: if you make something amazing in the world of tech, you’ll probably be bought by a bigger company for a whole lot of money. Such is the case with this past weekend’s news that Google has purchased Jetpac, a start-up behind an app that searches through Instagram photos for locations and recommends destinations to users based on who snapped the image.
The purchase was made for an undisclosed sum, but it does seem clear that Jetpac itself will cease to be once the company is fully absorbed by Google. Said Jetpac on its website:
“We’re joining Google! Thank you for all your interest and support. We look forward to working on exciting projects with our colleagues at Google. We’ll be removing Jetpac’s apps from the App Store in the coming days, and ending support for them on 9/15.”
According to a post on CNET about the acquisition, Jetpac’s employees will be absorbed into Google’s Knowledge team, “which is attempting to build a more sophisticated understanding of the real world into search results.”
This seems very similar to Google’s purchase of Quest Visual back in May. Quest made Word Lens, an app that translated text to and from other languages in real time, right on your smartphone display. That app still exists on the Play Store, but its last update was the same day that the company’s acquisition was announced. Since then, Quest’s former employees have presumably been helping Google in its efforts to understand the world. Jetpac will undoubtedly fill a similar role at the company.
Meanwhile, Google’s image-recognition app, Goggles, works pretty well. If you take a photo of, say, a famous celebrity from the 1930s whose name you just can’t place, Goggles will tell you. Other times, if you’re photographing a receipt to save for your records, it can be less than reliable:
That’s right. “Justin Bieber Laser Tag.” Nice work, team.
Hence the need for more image recognition experts like Jetpac.