Demystifying Image SaaS Solutions

Recently we published infographic on the current state of the image analysis industry. We do not pretend we’ve included everybody working on that matter but the infographic gives quite good idea what’s on the market and how different companies are approaching the problem of helping out people and businesses better use and organize their image collections.

It’s all about images and video. Over 1B picture are take each day thanks to relatively accessible DSLRs and unprofessional cameras, but mostly because 2/3 of smart mobile phone owners connect to internet on a daily basis, take pictures and share them quickly. Image centric services like Instagram, Pinterest, 500px, Flickr are widely used. The need for scalable solutions and technologies to ease that process of uploading, storing and organizing images is so viable.

There are several types of image automation technologies currently on the market:

  • Streaming/Channeling: image feeds from third-party sources on a topic your users are interested in, e.g. “US elections 2012″, “Paris”, “Steve Jobs” via Instagram, Flickr, 500px etc.
  • Image editing: end-users are provided with tools to edit images, apply filters, etc. directly in the mobile and/or in the web apps
  • Basic image processing (and eventually image hosting): generate (and eventually host) thumbnails, crop images, apply filters
  • Template matching: recognize predefined “template” images; useful for recognition of book/CD covers, labels, posters, landmarks; kind of “sexier” alternative to QR codes in mobile apps
  • Face detection and facial recognition: detect faces and/or recognize faces of particular persons and face-tag them
  • Visual or multi-color search: “offline” indexing of the images coupled with search functionality based on the extracted visual features or colors
  • Image categorization and auto-tagging: recognizing various pre-defined categories, concepts or objects present in an image

All this currently available technologies can be integrated in various ways to better serve it’s customers. The most typical are:

  • Cloud / Web-service (typically REST API)
  • On-premise / Self-hosted solution
  • Widget
  • Compiled Library (desktop or mobile)

Lets not forget that we need to make money. So far there are several billing options as listed below, but most of them depend directly or indirectly on the number of images processed and/or the processing hours spent and/or GBs of traffic

  • Subscription: based on some of the usage factors above, typically monthly recurring payment
  • Utility based: typically pay as you go bills based on some of the usage factors above, at the end of each month
  • Licensing: typically for ‘on-premise’ solutions and libraries; one-time fee, or annual renewal fee

Here’s short list of some key players on the market (disclaimer: these are just the companies we are aware of. Your startup can also be doing something related to image analysis, we haven’t missed it on purpose. Leave a comment below and we will be more than happy to enlist you as well). The companies are listed in alphabetical order and not in order of significance:

  • Blitline – basic image processing; cloud solution; utility based pricing
  • Chute – image streaming; widgets; subscription pricing
  • Cloudinary (basic image processing & hosting; cloud solution; subscription pricing)
  • acquired by Facebook – facial recognition
  • Idee Labs – reverse image search as in their Tineye, mutli-color search; library/cloud; license/subscription pricing
  • Imagga – color search, smart cropping, auto-tagging, categorization, similarity search; cloud solution; subscription/utility pricing
  • IQ engines – template matching, categorization; cloud solution / library; subscription pricing
  • Kooba – template matching; cloud solution; subscription pricing
  • Lambda Labs – face detection and facial recognition; cloud solution; subscription pricing
  • LTU Technologies – color search, similarity search, template matching; on-premise/cloud solution; license/utility pricing
  • – template matching; cloud solution; subscription/utility pricing
  • Aviary – image editing; mobile and web libraries; subscription pricing)
  • Pixolution – visual similarity, color similarity; on-premise solution / library; subscription
  • Kuznech – image search and shopping tagging