PlinkArt snaps up Google prize

James Philbin and Mark Cummins, two DPhil students from Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science, have won a $100,000 prize in a major competition run by Google.

Philbin and Cummins’ company, Plink Search, received the largest share of the public vote for a visual search engine called PlinkArt.

PlinkArt is an app for Android mobile phones that allows users to discover more about art. Anyone with an Android mobile phone can download the PlinkArt app. They can then take a photo of a painting on their mobile and the app will automatically find the Wikipedia article that describes it.

Although the present focus is on art, Philbin and Cummins’ long-term vision is to develop a search engine for the visual domain. ‘We hope that Google Android and iPhone platforms will eventually enable members of the public to walk into a shop, take a photo of a product on their mobiles and then find the cheapest product on the market,’ said Cummins.

The two developers plan to spend their prize money on developing and promoting the PlinkArt app further.

The idea for PlinkArt came out of research the pair had undertaken with Prof Andrew Zisserman and Dr Paul Newman at the university.