Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hello World!

After years of research and development we are ready to introduce Superfish to the world. Say Hi.
Yes, it’s been difficult and it’s taken longer than we thought, but here it is.

Superfish is a visual search engine, software that tries to achieve what we humans do so well – perceive similarity in images. In fact, this is a notoriously difficult problem which smart scientists and engineers have been working on for decades. Our work builds on theirs and adds our own innovative ideas.

The explosion of images on the Web has accelerated the need for visual search, with several teams trying to crack the code (friendly nod to the guys at Google and Microsoft). While we are making our first steps, we think Superfish is quite different from anything you’d seen so far. Other technologies have demonstrated how effective visual search can be on bar codes, text and flat objects like books and DVD covers. Those are neat applications but, alas, the world is not really flat!

So, we set out to visually search more complex objects that matter to people. Things we wear, for example – like shoes and clothing and jewelry. While books and DVDs have names and catalog numbers to search with, fashion items don’t. In the shoe store we can ask for another shoe like this one or tell the clerk we don’t like this style. Online there’s a ton of fashion, which is great, but we aren’t able to use visual cue shortcuts to cut through it all. Can visual search help?
We think it can.

Our first product is called
Window Shopper and it uses visual search to help you discover the products you want. We engineered it as a browser add-on that allows you to select a product image at some online store (no need to go to our destination site - launch it from your favorite store), quickly see similar products, most likely in other stores, and focus or expand your search based on style. Say you are looking at a high heel shoe at Nordstrom and want to see similar products elsewhere on the Web. Click, and you will get similar style shoes at other stores, from different brands at different prices.

It’s pretty cool, we think. And, it actually works. Well, most of the time. Sometimes Superfish may return really funny results – like a pair of trousers that are perceived to look like wine glasses.
In most cases Superfish returns really nice and relevant results. Considering the difficulty of visual search, we feel it
is actually quite amazing and very cool and dramatically better than where we started out from. But we do of course recognize that it is still 20% shy of perfect. Improving this requires a lot of work – beefing up our image index, learning from usage patterns and improving our algorithms. It also means we will rely on you to use our beta products, point out problems and push us to constantly improve the technology and user experience.

The Superfish technology was designed to search on any image. As we move forward, we will be adding more categories, enabling more features and extending visual search to more use cases. Our vision is that one day, we hope not too distant, you will be able to search visually on any object, wherever you are, whenever you feel like it.

We hope you will add WindowShopper to your browser and check it out. We would love to get your feedback, ideas, comments and suggestions, on this blog or using the feedback form at our web site.

Happy fishing.
The Superfish Team


  1. Superfish Team,
    I have downloaded the firefox add-on. Great job! it works great, I like the flipping image with info and how simple it is to use.

  2. Superfish Team,

    I also downloaded the firefox add-on. it works great and I will use it to our website, I like the flipping image with info and how simple it is to use.