Box taps Google Cloud Vision for image management

The integration is one of Box's first moves to bring machine learning capabilities to its cloud content management platform.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

In one of its first moves to bring machine learning capabilities to its cloud content management platform, Box on Thursday announced it's tapping the Google Cloud Vision API to help customers manage and gain insight from their image files.

The integration, now available in private beta, will enable businesses using Box to automatically identify objects in images or text (either typed or handwritten), index metadata for improved search and discovery, and ultimately, speed up image-centric processes and workflows.

Earlier this year, Box CEO Aaron Levie promised to roll out multiple AI-related product announcements, as well as more direction in terms of Box's AI strategy. The company is starting with computer vision for a couple big reasons, he told ZDNet: For one thing, he said, the technology in the machine learning space "is really, really strong around image content."

Also, Levie noted, images are the second-largest file type stored on the Box platform.

"We're seeing a pretty significant rise in image content being generated in corporate use cases," he said. The proliferation of smart phones, he noted, have enabled workers to generate image-based content in the retail sector, at construction sites, within the insurance industry and elsewhere. The range of use cases for image-based content management extends to collaboration (taking pictures of notes on a whiteboard, for instance), background checks, filing expense reports, inventory management, and more.

While Box customers can now work within the confines of Google's image recognition capabilities, Levie said the company will aim to enable customization so that customers can train the system on particular data sets over time.

Box is partnering with Google to introduce this capability because "the maturity of their APIs in this space are phenomenal," Levie said, and aligned very well with Box's needs.

"This doesn't preclude us from working with other partners," he said. "We wanted to really get this to market, and Google at the time we started working on this was the farthest along with these APIs."

Box already has a strong relationship with Google, as it does with other cloud vendors like Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM.

Levie said that Box in the coming months introduce more intelligent capabilities.

"Intelligence broadly is going to be one of the most powerful capabilities for managing content in the cloud," he said, noting that Box now stores more than 30 billion files for businesses, which are accumulating more and more unstructured data. "Any kind of content where we can extract value... we want to bring in machine learning to solve those problems."

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