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Summary:

In its latest acquisition — and its first in the UK — Google has bought a small visual-search startup called Plink, maker of a mobile app that recognizes works of art. The acquisition appears to be an attempt to add horsepower to its Google Goggles project.

In its latest acquisition — its first-ever in the UK — Google has bought a small visual search startup called Plink, which makes a mobile app that recognizes works of art. The acquisition appears to be an attempt to add some horsepower to its Google Goggles visual search project. Plink’s two founders — Mark Cummins and James Philbin, both of whom have PhDs from Oxford — say in a blog post announcing the deal that they will no longer be developing their app, but instead will be working on Goggles. A Google Labs experiment that currently runs only on Android devices, Goggles lets users search for landmarks, books, documents and other objects by taking photos with their mobile device.

The Plink purchase is the latest in a string of acquisitions by Google. Last fall, CEO Eric Schmidt said that the search company planned to acquire an average of one small company a month, and that the deals in most cases would be “in lieu of hiring.” As Liz pointed out in a recent post, many of these purchases — or “acqu-hires” — have involved former Googlers, including the founders of Aardvark, AppJet and ReMail.

Plink’s app — which is called PlinkArt, and runs on iPhones and Android devices — allows users to get information about works of art. When a user takes a photo of a painting with their phone, the app recognizes it and pulls up information about it. The Plink founders apparently got Google’s attention when they won $100,000 in an Android developers challenge last year. Google Goggles was released last year, and the company has said it plans to support iPhones and other platforms soon as well as Android. In February, the company showed a prototype version of the app doing text recognition and translation of a German restaurant menu (video embedded below).

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Why Mobile Search Is Still Anybody’s Game

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Stefan

  1. [...] last acqu-hire was a London-based company called Plink, a visual-search startup it bought to add more horsepower to its Google Goggles mobile visual search project. The search company has also bought several [...]

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  2. [...] A post on the BumpTop website on Sunday confirmed the acquisition, and said the company’s existing software (which was available for both Windows and Mac computers) “will no longer be available for sale [and] no updates to the products are planned.” Despite this, however, sources say the purchase of the company isn’t just another case of Google “acqu-hiring” some talented developers (something it has been doing a lot of recently). [...]

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  3. [...] A post on the BumpTop website on Sunday confirmed the acquisition, and said the company’s existing software (which was available for both Windows and Mac computers) “will no longer be available for sale [and] no updates to the products are planned.” Despite this, however, sources say the purchase of the company isn’t just another case of Google “acqu-hiring” some talented developers (something it has been doing a lot of recently). [...]

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  4. [...] of Toronto-based Bumptop that was announced over the weekend, Israeli games company LabPixies and mobile app maker Plink. Similarly, Google would do whatever it takes to keep enhancing the Android [...]

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  5. [...] just bought the visual search startup Plink, which helped users recognize works of art, and added the [...]

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