Watson Developer Cloud

Visual Recognition

Understand image content

General Availability

Visual Recognition understands the contents of images - visual concepts tag the image, find human faces, approximate age and gender, and find similar images in a collection. You can also train the service by creating your own custom concepts. Use Visual Recognition to detect a dress type in retail, identify spoiled fruit in inventory, and more.


Analyze images for scenes, objects, faces, text, and other subjects that can give you insights into your visual content.


Create and train your custom image classifiers using your own collections.

Search for Similarity BETA

Submit an image to search your corpus for similar images.

Intended use

Developers can use the Visual Recognition service for any task that requires understanding images automatically or at scale. By categorizing and finding similar images for you, this service eliminates the need to manually classify images one-by-one. Use Visual Recognition to simplify and expedite tasks such as:

  • Organize image libraries into categorized folders
  • Segment user interests from social media pictures
  • Find high-quality images with specific content faster
  • Recognize custom content from images
  • Identify matching images

You input

  • JPEG images
  • PNG images
  • Image or website URLs
  • Custom: Classifier name, JPEG images (positive examples for each class, and negative examples)
  • Custom: Collections - your own images that you want to search for similar images

Service output

  • Class description
  • Class taxonomy
  • Face detection (Gender, age range, celebrity (very limited see docs)
  • Similar images with confidence scores

Try it out

Check out the service using your own image or a preselected one.

How it is used


Free Plan

Classify 250 images per day and train a custom classifier with up to 5000 images.

Use against image classification, face detection, or custom classifiers.

Create one free custom visual classifier using 5000 training images.

Standard Plan

Image Classification
$0.002 / Image

Face Detection
$0.004 / Image

Custom Classifier Training
$0.10 / Image
Custom Image Classification
$0.004 / Image

Pricing FAQ

Question: What is the difference between a "Class" and "Classifier" for pricing purposes in Visual Recognition?
Answer: Using the dog breed scenario in the demo as an example, each dog breed, such as "Husky", is a class. The classifier is "Dog Breed" which is the collection of classes. Learn more about using your own data.

Question: How many classes can I create for my one free classifier?
Answer: However many classes you want. You are limited to 5000 free training images and one classifier. For best results, use a minimum of 50 images per class. Learn more about using your own data.

Ready to use?


Getting started is easy! Try out the service on Bluemix now.

Use In Bluemix


Ready to get down to the details? Full documentation detailing how to get started using this Service in Bluemix is available for each Watson service.

View full docs


Localized versions of Watson services (Natural Language Classifier, Retrieve and Rank, Speech to Text, Text to Speech) are available in the following places.

Japanese - SoftBank