Twitter has acquired Madbits, an image search deep learning startup based out of New York.
Over this past year, we’ve built visual intelligence technology that automatically understands, organizes and extracts relevant information from raw media. Understanding the content of an image, whether or not there are tags associated with that image, is a complex challenge. We developed our technology based on deep learning, an approach to statistical machine learning that involves stacking simple projections to form powerful hierarchical models of a signal.
We prototyped and tested about ten different applications, and as we’ve prepared to launch publicly, we’ve decided to bring the technology to Twitter, a company that shares our ambitions and vision and will help us scale this technology.
Madbits is a seemingly small startup, listing their company size at 1-10 employees on their LinkedIn page. where they state “we are primarily interested in the task of image search, and the creation of intelligent, dynamic image sets, to automatically organize large databases of images.”
The acquisition is clearly to take advantage of the massive number of images that Twitter users posts on the platform every single day. Whether they are planning to suggest related images for users to retweet when they upload a photo or simply using it to rank their images better in search engines, it will be interesting to see how they use Madbits’ technology.
They could also potentially be starting their own image search engine to better organize and rank those who are searching for images on Twitter, something that the social media platform can only currently do when the keywords are included in the tweet along with the image.
Gigaom was the first to notice the announcement on the Madbits website, which was posted to their website on Monday. They also speculate about how Madbits’ technology could be utilized.
It’s not at all surprising that Twitter would want to acquire the company, given the tremendous amount of images published on Twitter every day. If Twitter wants to roll out functions such as image search, improve its search rankings based on image content, or perhaps even analyze images to get a better sense of what people are tweeting about, it will need people who understand how to do it. Yahoo, Dropbox and Pinterest have also made acquisitions in the computer vision space likely to glean the same types of capabilities.
Neither Twitter nor Madbits has released financial details of the acquisition deal.
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