How A Pinterest Engineer Is Helping Others Find Inspiration Through Visual Search

By Queenie Wong
The Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet 23 year old Cindy Zhang, an engineer at Pinterest who is working on a new search feature for Pinterest. The Pinterest “Lens” will allow you to snap a photo and then you would get a list of recommended pins.


Searching for ideas on how to arrange photos in her college dorm room, Cindy Zhang turned to Pinterest for some inspiration as a freshman.

Now, the 23-year-old software engineer, who joined Pinterest in 2015, is helping 150 million monthly active users on the social bookmarking site tap into their creative side.

Zhang works on the tech firm’s search product team, which consists of 30 percent women engineers. She built the Android version of a new feature the company is testing called Lens, allowing users to discover more ideas by snapping a photo of an object in real life.

“I think as an engineer it’s really important to have inspiration to keep you going and work on a product that you really love,” she said.

Zhang, who is also a singer in Mino the band, sat down with The Mercury News to chat about the company’s visual search efforts. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: How would you describe your job as a software engineer at Pinterest?

A: I work on the search product team, and we’re responsible for all the user-facing aspects of search. We work on Android, iOS and web. The most recent project I worked on was Pinterest Lens and before that I worked on search recommendations, which are recommendations you get from your search results that kind of pivot you to search for other things as well.

Q: Pinterest Lens basically allows you to snap a photo and then you get a list of recommended pins. How is the beta testing of the product going so far?

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