The acquisition of Plink by Google marks the debut of a potent revolution for the photo world. Not because Plink is a special company, nor that Google really cares about the photo world, but for the technical implication that it implies.
As it is frequent with Google, it is not the company they purchase, but the talent. Plink, if you do not know, is a company that does ( did ?) visual search. Take a picture of a painting and it will find the original along with the information. All from your cell phone. Nothing really new : LTU Technology has such such for the Iphone and Idee or Picsout could easily replicate same in ten minutes if they were not so busy trying to find a sustainable business model.
No, what is interesting is the what they how Google intends to expand this technology and use the migrating talents. They will integrate with Google Goggles , their project of photographing with your cell phone a place, object etc and returning a search result.Thus eliminating text based queries. The smarts ones here can see where we are going with this
For that to happen, Google needs to improve object recognition technology. If anyone can do it, and do it well, they can. There will now be a thousand companies competing in that field, if only to be hopefully acquire by Google ( which is a more popular exit strategy then doing an IPO, these days). So what does it mean for the photo world? Well, at first , the end of manually entered text keywords. With this, an image can be scanned and all content automatically identified and added to the keyword list. Goodbye to the thousands ( mostly in India), that currently provide this process manually. The hard, if not very hard part, will be the conceptual keywords.
What is fresh ? what is happy ? what is “in love” ? Computers will have a very hard time to decipher human emotions and concepts. It’s not impossible, just very hard. However, 90% of the process will be done already.
It will place Google in a very advance part of the search technology as it will not be easy and simple to replicate. It will accelerate the camera to desktop cycle for photo agencies that use it well, it will make Microstock even more automated and cheaper to process.
So, while you think on how and what to invest in your keywording work flow, think about what is just around the corner and about to make your competition more cost effective than you. Think about how to reduce manual labor in favor of automated processes. Think about abandoning those endless discussion about how to handle your keywords because so, it will not be an issue. Finally, if you are a company making revenue solely or primarily on providing keywording, the time to change is now.
More on Plink acquisition here.