The company explains it’s using two core parts of artificial intelligence – computer vision and deep learning – to power these new features. When images are uploaded to eBay, it uses a deep learning model called a convolutional neural network to process the images. The images are compared to the site’s live listings, ranked based on visual similarity, then returned quickly using eBay’s open-source Kubernetes platform.
Although visual search is a trendy new way to shop online, its overall usefulness remains unproven in the long run. Retailers aren’t releasing stats about how many image searches have actually translated into sales, and arguably, the results can be hit or miss.
One of the problems is that when you’re looking at a fashion item in a photo, many times you want to find something just like it – not something only “visually similar.”
That is, there are times you just want a small, red handbag with a gold chain and any ol’ handbag of this nature will do; then there are times when you want the exact handbag you’re frothing over right now, or something nearly identical.