Google Acquires Visual Search Engine Plink

Plink

Google has snapped up Plink, a visual search company based in the United Kingdom. The co-founders Mark Cummins and James Philbin announced the acquisition in a blog post Monday. It's the first company Google has acquired up in the U.K. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cummins and Philbin will stay on with Google to help integrate and build out the technology into Google Goggles, according to a Google spokesperson. It's not clear whether the tool will integrate branding features for advertisers. Google Goggles is an application that allows people to take a picture with a mobile phone camera and search for more information about the object across the Web.

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Plink launched four months ago. PlinkArt, the company's first product, enables users to identify paintings and artworks with a photo from a mobile phone's camera. Once an image is recognized, users can read information on the artwork and artist.

If Plinks' origin had begun somewhere in Silicon Valley, the tale might begin as the typical success story. The tool already has more than 50,000 users. In this case, Cummins and Philbin took first place as the best reference app in the Android Developer Challenge in December 2009. The creators won $100,000.

Plink's two employees -- Cummins and Philbin -- are credited for creating the technology born from their PhD research projects in the Mobile Robotics and the Visual Geometry groups at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford. Cummins' and Philbin's thesis advisors, PhD supervisors Andrew Zisserman and Paul Newman, also had a hand in developing the technology.

The inventors will stay on with Google. Plan to see the technology integrated into Google Goggles, according to a company spokesperson. The company only had two employees.

Obviously, Google acquired the company for the technology and creative minds behind it. Google has been consistent in reportedly acquiring one company per quarter since last year. It has become common to learn about executives who have either worked with Google executives or at Google, gone out on their own, and eventually been bought up by the Mountain View, Calif. search engine. For Plink, it appears the connection to Android prompted this acquisition.

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