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All Eyes on Idee – Visual Search: Part 1

idee.pngIdee is a Toronto, Ontario based company that has been one of the biggest stars in the Canadian Startup community for years.

Idee is a profitable and extremely original company. Their ultra-cool office on Queen St in Toronto is home to 22 employees.

Now, I have to warn you. I am a bit of an Idee fan, so if I gush too much,. well,. gush along.

Leila Boujnane and Paul Bloore are the two founders and brains behind the company. Paul currently runs the technical side of things and Leila is the CEO and runs the business operation. That said, it’s obvious that they are a tightly knit team. Both of them put in long days as they turn out new products and bring on new customers.

What’s so great to see is how well this team works together. As far as I know, they have never strangled each other in public before. Considering that you can walk by Idee at midnight many days of the week and see the lights all on tells you enough about how hard these two, and their team, all work.

What does Idee do? They are the developers of visual search and image/video monitoring technologies. On the visual search front: their visual search software can find similar images in very large image collections. Give their engine an image and it will find all the similar images in an image collection. You can try their visual search technology in the Idee lab.

As to image and video monitoring: Idee monitors and actively tracks millions of clients images and can identify where their clients images have been used in both print publications and the internet. They are the only company in the world to do this. Their image recognition system analyzes each client’s images and creates a digital fingerprint for each image and compares it to images scanned from publications and crawled from the Internet. The image matches found for their clients can be partial image matches as well. This means that a person appearing in one image, and then reappearing in another image but with a different background, will be found by Idee.

Their clients receive timely image monitoring reports that basically provide them with a snapshot of where any of their images have appeared. These reports can be used for automating editorial photo sales, competitive analysis, copyright monitoring. As you can imagine if you are an professional photographer this would make sense for you too :)

First Cluser - IdeeThis video provides the best overview of their services. Their first compute cluster was put together in less than a day (see photo to the left). Today their compute cluster includes over 300 processors and more than 40 terabytes of storage and it is continuing to grow (see glamour shot of Paul below).

Idee has had to deal with all of the classic startup issues and in our next installment we will get them to tell us about some of their adventures. Scaling such a computationally complex business means maintaining (and paying for) a huge technical infrastructure while building an enterprise sales operation. It takes stamina and brains to get that kind of job done. Leila, Paul and their team have done it.

Paul Bloore - IdeeThey may not have entierly conquered all media searching yet, but they are on their way. I would place a bet any day that they will get there pretty soon. Once you get to know Idee you realize that the sky is the limit.

Take a look at their client list and you will know what I mean.

The question for me is: what’s next for Idee? Leila won’t say exactly what’s coming, but we can look forward to something huge soon. I know it.

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