Ecommerce Insider: Josie Fear of Cortexica

Josephine Fear is the PR & Marketing Manager of Cortexica Vision Systems – the world’s leading developer of image recognition and visual search technology. Cortexica first began in the Bioengineering labs of Imperial College London, when Dr Anil Bharath and Dr Jeffrey Ng found inspiration from how the human visual system works and the way in which human neurons react to visual stimulus, effectively mimicking the Primary Visual Cortex.

Cortexica’s primary focus is on the mobile visual search opportunity. The vision platform is used by global retailers, brands, and technology companies to power real-time image search and video search within large databases of photos and videos. Its’ FindSimilar software enables you to create fashion apps that can find fashion items or accessories within their database just by taking a photo.

Aside from her day job, Josephine is also the Event Co-Ordinator at FashTech. FashTech’s monthly meetup talks around London, discuss everything that has to do with mobile, wearable, and ecommerce technology and aim to drive innovation within an engaged, forward-thinking ecommerce related community. Josephine shares with Poq her experiences of working within the fast-paced world of fashion inspired technology as part of our ecommerce Insiders series.

Josephine Fear

Can you tell us a bit more about your role as PR & Marketing Manager at Cortexica?

Cortexica is originally an image recognition company, with roots within Bio Engineering in Imperial College, and over seven years  they have developed a way to find fashion pieces by using advanced image recognition algorithms. So my role as PR & Marketing manager is to help achieve the company’s goal of visually enabling the fashion industry – by building a strong brand around our findSimilar product.
The company has used its technology on many verticals; from wine labels, to grocery products to art work to vehicles, we have applied our technology to a wide variety of Exact match visual search challenges. However, with the Fashion focus of findSimilar, we have found for the first time that we have significant in-bound interest causing the company to cope with significant market demand and welcomed growth. PR & Marketing is therefore crucial to utilize this interest in a way that benefits the company and the fashion industry.

What are the main advantages available for the ecommerce consumer, when using visual search technology?

For the ecommerce consumer, time spent shopping for the perfect fashion item online can be dramatically reduced with visual search technology. By working with app developers and retailers, using images to search for fashion  will soon be the norm. The concept of using a picture to perform a search is fundamental, and the fashion industry is poised to exploit this technology to enable customers to find products within their inventory. Using an image to find what you are looking for, or similar, is the most practical and effective way of searching, and being inspired to find new looks.
Instagram, Tumblr, Flikr, Twitter all play a part in how you can make decisions on what you should buy.  Also retailers are relying more and more on consumer generated  “street-style” images to help them sell inventory.  Again visual search helps these retailers find the “right” images to promote.

Are you able to tell us about Cortexica’s future plans, for further optimisation of its’ website for mobile?

We are soon to launch the findSimilar website which will provide a plugin for users to drag to their bookmark bar, so that they can use findSimilar for any looks that they like online. This will be perfect for mobile devices.

Can you also tell us about some of the unique features of Cortexica’s cloud-based image recognition systems?

Cortexica is originally an image recognition company, with roots within Bio Engineering in Imperial College, and over seven years  they have developed a way to find fashion pieces by using advanced image recognition algorithms. So my role as PR & Marketing manager is to help achieve the company’s goal of visually enabling the fashion industry – by building a strong brand around our findSimilar product.
The company has used its technology on many verticals; from wine labels, to grocery products to art work to vehicles, we have applied our technology to a wide variety of Exact match visual search challenges.  However, with the Fashion focus of findSimilar, we have found for the first time that we have significant in-bound interest causing the company to cope with significant market demand and welcomed growth. PR & Marketing is therefore crucial to utilize this interest in a way that benefits the company and the fashion industry.

What are the benefits for the retailers who use fashion image recognition software?

Retailers are obsessed with reducing returns and having the right amount of inventory to satisfy the consumer demand to maximize sales.  Traditional retail problems.  However, retailers are already seeing significant increases in margin dollars when they can convert a sale online rather than take the transaction in a traditional store.  They see even more margin in mcommerce sales. The key to any successful transition to a multi-channel is having an end-to-end Omni-channel strategy. Therefore, all retailers will be looking to reduce the significant cost and time taken to push inventory through the on-boarding process.  Once committed to this complete product availability strategy no matter which channel the consumer chooses, only then with the downstream benefits be realised.
Essentially by using findSimilar within their app or mobile website, brands can encourage showrooming – customers can snap anything that inspires them, any look that they want to recreate, and find that look from products within the retailer’s database.

From conversations with you guys a while back we heard Cortexica were planning a product around shoe retailing, can you reveal any further details on this?

The most exciting feature we have just launched is a “shape” module.  This means that coupled to the current findSimilar for Fashion product, it will allow us to find Shoes, Handbags and Accessories; something no other technology is capable of at this time.  So a world first that takes mobile visual search to the next level, allowing app developers to take advantage of a visual search engine that looks for colour, texture, distinctive parts and the overall shape of a Fashion item.  Ideal for shoes. and ideal for consumers who just want to “snap and find” fashion products.

Do you have any advice to pass onto creative tech startups?

Cortexica actually has it’s own platform for helping tech startups; our FashTech initiative is a series of meetups which aims to drive creative partnerships between tech startups, and the fashion industry. It’s free admittance and the ideal platform for networking, and finding out about innovation within the fashion industry, so my advice would be to check out FashTech!

Click here find out more about Cortexica

Click here to find out more about FashTech