ViSenze: A Pioneer in Visual Recognition Powered by Deep Learning

September 10, 2018

Oliver TanViSenze powers visual commerce at scale for retailers, brands and publishers’ catering to the retail industry specifically. Built on deep learning and computer vision, the company delivers AI solutions that streamline the consumer shopping journey by allowing online shoppers to search using visuals opposed to keywords. ViSenze has three groups of product offerings: the enterprise service, the visual search platform and the computer vision deep learning platform. For the enterprise service, it provides visual search as a service platform and image tagging API. ViSenze’s clients can use its APIs to index their visual content and perform mobile visual search (snap a photo as an image query or upload an image from a photo gallery to do a search), visual discovery and content recommendation based on visual similarity. The company’s visual search platform enables the camera lens to be an information entry point to interact with the real-world objects.

The business goal of the system is to help its customers – smartphone manufacturers, OEMs or any media publishers – bring a “discovery with your camera” experience to end users. ViSenze’s end-to-end platform is powered by computer vision and deep learning and supports multi-class, multi-label, detection, and visual embedding training models. By adopting its platform, clients can quickly train deep learning models and deploy it based on their own unique requirements. The company has deployed a Shoppable UGC tool in early 2018, which automatically understands and tags user-generated content making items within images easy to discover, search, and purchase.


The Mission to Bring Simplification to Visual Experiences

The company’s mission is to simplify the way people discover the visual world, and as consumers continue to buy products online more and more, ViSenze recognized that shopping via visuals, opposed to keywords, was much more efficient. This rising e-commerce trend merged with the increased usage of social media platforms (which are increasingly more visual), allows consumers to discover and be inspired by products on a more regular basis, therefore, allowing them to purchase products at that exact moment of inspiration is critical for retailers.

ViSenze recognized this shift in behaviour and the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) could have on the retail commerce landscape for both brands and online shoppers, this prompted the company to develop technology that not only recognized images, but also analyzed its content – visual attributes, metadata, keywords, etc. to help retailers also offer recommendations and visually similar products. Currently, ViSenze works with some of the world’s leading retailers like Rakuten, Uniqlo, H&M, Myntra, ASOS, and Zalora.


A Futuristic Leader

Oliver Tan is the CEO & Co-founder of ViSenze. Oliver started his career in the corporate / startup world handling everything from new business development, partnerships, investor relations, consultative selling, bid management, and group operations. Oliver and his co-founders established ViSenze at NExT – a collaboration lab established between the National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University. Oliver and his team recognized there was a common problem when it came to finding products on the web: people were still searching the web using keywords, but still not finding it because of the mismatch between the keywords they used and the product taxonomies that retailers and marketplaces had. Later, Oliver used this market problem as the thesis of his journey into startup entrepreneurship and he inspires his team every day to further develop ViSenze’s solutions to align with the company’s goals and initiatives: making shopping more efficient across any platform at any time.

As a CEO, Oliver is actively involved in company partnerships and business development, as well as day-to-day tasks that keep the company growing like fundraising, working with programs that fuel hiring, speaking at local and global events, and more.


A Proactive Approach to AI Tech

AI is rapidly growing so it’s up to the companies that specialize in AI tech, like ViSenze, to further invest in R&D and develop their solutions to positively impact the industry they are focused in. For ViSenze, that’s the retail space as AI disrupts and positively transforms the online shopping experience for both brands and online shoppers. New technologies are being applied to a multitude of areas within retail, from out of stock management to consumer insights, and most notably, retailers are using AI and specifically ViSenze’s technology to solve for two of the biggest challenges within the industry: search and more personalized recommendations.


Disruptive Technologies to Rule Innovation

Oliver believes that disruptive technologies like AI will be the driving force behind innovation. Until recently, humans were the main drivers of innovation and now technology is being leveraged more and more to increase efficiency and reduce manual labour. While many fear the impact that these technologies could have on the society such as replacing humans in the workforce, the reverse is also true that massively scaling data that has normally been challenging to humans, is now made possible with AI tools. “It’s important to understand that AI can be deployed to complement human tasks, and it will, in fact, increase the speed of innovation as we can complete tasks much faster than we have in the past,” he added.


Driving Growth Through Strategic Partnerships

ViSenze understood that to set themselves apart from their competitors, they needed to be innovative and find a market differentiator that would make them an ideal partner to customers. At ViSenze, the underlying technology is 100% deep learning and they were one of the first few machine learning startups to combine deep learning with computer vision.

ViSenze is a leader in the market and offers highly configurable and not a pre-fixed solution as it understands that strategies and techniques that perform well for one retailer may perform differently for another thus their solutions built are easy to use and customizable. The company has established key partnerships on working with retailers like Rakuten, ASOS, and Uniqlo and foresighted that every customer needed its own personal touch in order to be a successful business enterprise.


Valuable Achievements and Global Recognition

Over the past few years, ViSenze has been recognized many times for its achievements and continued innovation in the AI field. The company has been awarded with Interbrand Breakthrough Brand, CognitionX’s Best AI in Retail Award, VentureBeat’s Top 5 Startup, Datamation’s Top 20 Startup, ASEAN ICT Award, Asian Entrepreneurship Award, and most recently the Business HR Awards in Singapore.


Challenges Faced by ViSenze

One of ViSenze’s greatest challenges has been quickly expanding into new markets with the right people at the right time. The company found that AI innovation is challenged with market adoption. ViSenze is in a good spot right now, and the company is focused to expand into larger markets like China and the US. This calls for a lot of travel, learning about these places, talking to new retailers, networking, and educating friends and partners. Another challenge has been finding the right talent, especially in a small country like Singapore. Most of ViSenze’s employees consist of multiple nationalities and they love the work for ViSenze, so while finding talent is a challenge for most AI companies, the company has overcome this pretty efficiently.


The Bright Future Ahead

 As customer viewing preferences continue to shift towards visual over text, search will eventually become entirely visually-driven; therefore, visual search will be adopted as the main technology for product and information discovery. ViSenze foresees algorithms becoming so smart to be able to predict consumers’ usual shopping preferences with over 90% accuracy each time they ask for a recommendation.