Pinterest Lens visual search tool can be used to shop for IRL items

Pinterest has expanded the use of its Lens tool, enabling users to shop online for items they've spied in the physical world around them. The tool works similar to other visual searching aids like Google's Lens, enabling users to take an image of an object, such as a particular pillow or jacket, and shop through a selection of search results containing the same or similar items.

In everyday life, you're likely to come across items that catch your eye, but that you can't identify — a particular item in a thrift store, for example, that no longer features a tag, or maybe even a decorative piece you see in a business lobby. Visual search tools enable users to take a picture of the item with their smartphone's camra; the results feature either the same item or similar products.

Visual search is no longer limited to just search on Pinterest. The company has added a Shop tab to Lens that shows purchasable items similar to the one the user took an image of. The app includes images of the product and its price; clicking through shows the retailer and other relevant information.

Lens can be used with online images, as well, according to Pinterest. The company says that nearly half of the items users snap with Lens are home decor and fashion, while other top searches include artwork, clothing, shoes, prints, pillows, rugs, vases, and mirrors.

The company has seen the use of its Lens product jump over past months, Pinterest said in a blog post this week. In addition to the visual search, Lens also includes an augmented reality feature that can be used to 'try on' certain makeup products like lipstick to see how they look before making a purchase.