Pinterest has extended the image discovery and search tool in its mobile app to a new web browser button that enables users to conduct visual searches across its platform for items they see on any website.
Users can enable image searches via the browser button by hovering over any image on a given site, "selecting the magnifying tool to instantly discover visually-similar ideas on Pinterest," according to the Pinterest blog, which further states, "You can even search for specific items inside an image, like that one interesting chair in the corner of a living room. Just resize the selected area to pinpoint the part of the image you want to search. You can refine your results by topic using the Pinterest search guides. To go even deeper into your search, click any result and pinpoint whatever part of the new image you want to explore."
The browser button is available to download now only on Chrome, though Pinterest pledged it will be available for more browsers soon.
Pinterest seems to be in the midst of unpacking a variety of visual search capabilities to help members and consumers turn images that catch their eyes into purchases (or if not purchases, then decorating ideas, recipes and so forth that likely would involve purchases.) It's an effort that started in earnest last summer with an initial visual search tool for the Pinterest site, but has recently ramped up.
Last month, Pinterest rolled out a beta version of Pinterest Lens, a capability that allows users to capture an image with a smartphone camera to initiate a visual search. At the same time, it announced its Shop the Look capability, which brings more value to Pinterest's Buyable Pins, an offering which the site expanded last summer.
Voice search and shopping has gotten a lot of attention lately, but a number of parties, including Google, Amazon and Instagram (as well as Pinterest) also are investing to advance visual search capabilities. They are all looking toward the next wave of how users will want to find things on the internet, but they are not trying to reinvent the search engine for its own sake. They see great potential in the concept of shoppable images, what Pinterest essentially is doing with its Shop the Look feature.
Pinterest's effort to extend its visual search capabilities to web browsers (well, maybe just one so far) represents a a nice upping of its visual search game by getting users to use its visual search tool no matter where they are on the web. That's key to enabling some impulsive activity — and possibly impulsive buying — rather than hoping a user will mentally catalog something they see on a random site and make plans to check Pinterest for something related later on.