Riya 2.0 On the Way; Major Strategy Shift

Photo search and facial recognition site Riya (a TechCrunch sponsor) had a million photos uploaded in the first two days after launch and seven million photos uploaded in the first seven weeks. For details on the core service, see this post and listen this podcast interview with Riya founder and CEO Munjal Shah.

Next up – Riya 2.0.

It’s still a few months away from launching, but I spoke with Munjal this evening and he gave me an overview of what to expect from the service. It will be a “visual search engine” – give Riya an image and it will return image results that are similar from across the web. They’ve already begun crawling the web for images, a process that will take many months.

When it’s ready, users will be able to search on an image (the easiest way will be via a browser plugin to search right from the page containing the images). See a rug on ebay that has a pattern you like? See other rugs from across the web containing similar patterns. Riya will make money if the result you click on is from another ecommerce company – Riya pockets the referral fee.

Dating is another (if slightly creepy) use for the new Visual Search engine. See someone’s picture on MySpace that you like? Search on their photo to find single people who look similar and who have profiles up on match.com or other dating sites. Again, Riya makes a referral fee by moving the traffic along.

The infrastructure needed to crawl the web is substantial, says Munjal, and they’ve been working to build out a new data center over the last few months.

I believe Dan Farber was the first to write about Riya 2.0. More on Munjal’s blog, and he briefed Matt Marshall and Laurie Sullivan as well.

In other Riya news, a Mac version of their uploader was released tonight.