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Luminate Offers Interactive Images Packed with Info


Image applications. That's a new platform for interactive images introduced Wednesday by Google-backed Luminate that could provide a new avenue for content, social networking, and e-commerce.

The company said its platform brings "flat, static images to life," allowing them to become gateways to access content and functions. With the interactive functions in a Luminate image, users can access information and apps for shopping, sharing, commenting and navigating elsewhere.

Like Smartphones

Luminate CEO Bob Lisbonne compared his company's platform to the evolution of voice-only phones into smartphones with apps. He added that the widespread use of images "sets the stage" for the new platform.

A Luminate icon in the corner of an image indicates it is interactive. A viewer mouses over the image to locate the apps. Uses include sharing an image with friends, getting stats on an athlete shown in a photo, finding out where to buy products related to objects in the image, obtaining geographical tags or Wikipedia data, and playing a song or a video related to the image.

The company said its technology does more than simply offer links and apps in a layer over the image. The platform uses proprietary image-recognition algorithms with crowdsourcing to provide content that is relevant to the image and that can be obtained from multiple users. It also uses human "experts," who tag images for product inclusion. The platform is expected to show up soon on major web sites, and is also available free to any site willing to copy and paste code. Ad revenue is shared with web sites.

'Next Step in Tagging'

Luminate said its apps will span a variety of categories such as commerce, information, social, organization, advertising, navigation, public service, and presentation. Apps that are now available include unique versions of Twitter Share, Facebook Share, and Email Share.

Another app, Annotation, allows publishers to tag a spot inside an image and add information. A commerce app called Products is set up for tags that allow product information and purchasing, and an Advertising app provides ways for advertisements to be placed inside an image. The company expects to roll out new apps on a regular basis.

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said it isn't clear how Luminate's platform might improve the social experience. But, he noted, "it could give a boost to the buying experience."

Shimming said this appears to be the "next step in tagging," adding that he envisions a time when publishers and other businesses might release catalogs or publications that have little or no image content, but call up Luminate images with built-in intelligence from across the web.

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