Watson Developer Cloud

Visual Recognition

Understand the contents of images. Create custom classifiers to develop smart applications. Create custom collections to search for similar images.

General Availability

Visual Recognition allows users to understand the contents of an image or video frame, answering the question: “What is in this image?” Submit an image, and the service returns scores for relevant classifiers representing things such as objects, events and settings. What types of images are relevant to your business? How could you benefit from understanding and organizing those images based on their contents? With Visual Recognition, users can automatically identify subjects and objects contained within the image and organize and classify these images into logical categories. Need to train Visual Recognition on specific or custom content? Easily train a new classifier by sending examples and voila! Custom image recognition!


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

Need to figure out what is contained in many images, but don’t have the man-power to manually go one-by-one? Need to search a collection of your own images for similar images?

  • Organize image libraries into categories
  • Segment user interests from social media pictures
  • Find great images with specific content faster
  • Recognize custom content from images
  • Recognize 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 1000 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