Imagini Friends is an unusual new social network, that calculates your "VisualDNA" and uses it to find other people that match your choices. It's an application of Imagini, the technology - which aims to understand the emotional preferences of consumers, using VisualDNA. This can be used for marketing and advertising purposes, as well as social networking.
Imagini Friends reminds me of those personality tests in magazines like Vogue. It's certainly addictive and, a bit like when you read your horoscope, when your profile is created you find yourself nodding your head and going: yeah, that sounds like me. After your profile is finished, you're invited to find other people with similar profiles - and contact them if it's a good match. I looked around the site for some scientific evidence that visual profiling actually works, but the closest thing I found was the use of an old cliche: "a picture paints a thousand words". Hmmmm. However when it comes down to it, the success or otherwise of Imagini will be determined by how compelling it is to use, whether users will return time and again to the service, and whether it has potential for network effects - it's got the first part, but not sure about the second two.
Robin Klein, one the investors, expects Imagini to have "a global database of millions of VisualDNA's within the next 12 months." Imagini also provides widgets and another service called Imagini Valentine Giftfinder, which searches for gift ideas for your valentine.
To be frank, I think the most promising application for Imagini is advertising and marketing. And in that regard, I'm a bit concerned that the social networking part will just be a front to gather marketing data. In the recent PC World review, it was clear that Imagini data is pretty valuable from a marketing perspective:
"Last August, Imagini used its Visual DNA service to identify new market segments for Nectar, a multibrand loyalty card operated by Loyalty Management.
In a test on Nectar's Web site, Imagini measured customers' reactions to a series of images. From their reactions, it was able to identify a group of customers passionate about reading, something not revealed by the transactional data Nectar already held, Willcock said."
So for marketing purposes, Imagini looks to be a winner because of the demographic and consumer preferences data that it can obtain. Imagini Friends seems like a compelling use case for their technology, but there are privacy concerns around it that may put people off.