Imagine you are surfing the Internet - trawling through the over 348 billion images online when you stumble on one of Hollywood actress Rachel Bilson in a gorgeous green jacket. Intrigued, you mouse over the jacket and a small box immediately appears, informing you that it is a faux-fur-trimmed cargo jacket from Gap. It also says "Click here to get Bilson's jacket now!". You do that and within minutes, have become the owner of a new Gap jacket.
It could have been an image of Phi Phi Islands or the latest Mercedes-Benz instead, and you may have gotten yourself a vacation or a new car.
And all these are made possible by Singapore-based startup Graymatics, which has found a way to automatically locate and analyse every image and video online, before categorising them and enabling advertisers to place contextually-relevant ads around them.
Graymatics, launched in June 2011 with offices in Singapore and Silicon Valley, has since secured some $2.3 million in funding from Silicon Valley-based Citrix Accelerator, Singapore's National Research Foundation (NRF) and various angel investors.
Graymatics was in fact the NRF's first investment from its Global Entrepreneur Executives (GEE) programme - an initiative which funds startups run by experienced entrepreneurs.
"GEEs, with strategic market knowledge and connections to multinational corporations, improve our chances of success in building global high-tech companies by attracting them to operate in Singapore. This shortens the time needed to reach critical mass," Low Teck Seng, chief executive officer of the NRF, told BT.
Graymatics was also recognised as one of the Top 3 startups in the 2013 Asean Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Awards and at the 2012 TechVenture when its founder-CEO Abhijit Shanbhag clinched the "Rising Star Innovator - Technopreneur" award.
"The Internet was growing increasingly visual with a mind-boggling number of images and videos uploaded and consumed over mobile or Web," Mr Shanbhag told BT. "Graymatics thus started with a vision to be able to organise, search and monetise from such rich media content, and create the same contextual effectiveness as text could."
Today, Graymatics offers a diverse range of web solutions, all of which centre on the placement of contextually-relevant ads to enhance one's media consumption experience.
Said Mr Shanbhag: "This is the Holy Grail for any retailer as it is a cost-efficient and scalable solution enabling the targeting of ads. We have also introduced new features such as full-featured ad network tools, analytics engine and collage curation tools so our clients can very quickly deploy their applications and services."
He counts Internet portals, service providers, video platforms, publishers, ad exchanges, photo-sharing sites and surveillance companies among Graymatics' clients.
"It is amazing how visual data is penetrating so many different devices, leading to many innovative ways that our platform is being used. We will soon have planes, printers and even home appliances use our platform," he said.