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Box taps Google’s AI for image recognition

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Box is bringing more artificial intelligence to its content services offering for enterprises, the company announced today. Using the Google Cloud Vision API, customers will be able to get automatic tagging of objects, optical character recognition of text in images, and other information when they upload files.

With this move, Box is adding a new layer of intelligence to its marquee service, which offers customers secure, cloud-based file storage and content management capabilities. Box Image Recognition will be able to further help customers by automatically classifying their images, which can then enable workflows to route files or just help reduce busy work.

For example, a service technician could use Box Capture, the company’s camera app, to photograph a physical sign or typed notice that would then be automatically transcribed by the image recognition system for further processing.

This is also a win for Google, which has been trying to lure customers to its cloud platform with services like the Cloud Vision API. The image recognition API space is incredibly competitive, with major cloud providers like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services offering their own competing services. There are also a number of startups and smaller companies offering similar functionality.

Rand Wacker, Box’s head of product marketing, said in an interview that the company isn’t yet disclosing the pricing for the Box Image Recognition capability. It seems unlikely that customers will be able to get it for free, however, considering that Google charges for use of its API.

The Image Recognition capabilities are available in private beta, starting today. This means companies have to opt into having their images analyzed by Google, which should help allay any fears of those concerned about giving the tech giant’s image recognition system access to their files.

Box will also work to add new intelligent capabilities to its services in the future, and Wacker didn’t rule out the possibility of working with additional partners to do so. Plus, there’s likely big news in the pipeline for later this year, when the company hosts its BoxWorks conference in October.

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