Searching on the mobile web is one step closer to being a whole lot easier - and more fun. Imagine being able to aim, shoot and fire your way through searching. More specifically, to be able to search by taking pictures with your cell phone's camera. Okay. I'm liking the sounds of this.
Microsoft (you read correctly) is the company behind this image-matching software that would allow you, for example, to take a picture of a movie poster and find an online review. Or, to link your band's concert poster to an mp3 download. Said Microsoft's Larry Zitnick:
The main thing we want to do is connect real-world objects with the Web using pictures.
I like the thought of that, very much. The prototype, dubbed Lincoln (unsurprisingly badly named), works by matching pretagged images in a database with pictures taken on cell phones.
It works best on two-dimensional objects such as DVDs, posters, magazines, books, products, and the like. However, it will "not work well on photos of 3D objects such as faces, although it would work on a photo of a photo of a face."
Microsoft's differentiation standpoint:
1. The ability to search through millions of images, quickly, as a result of their image-recognition system.
2. Anyone can contribute images, comments and links to the database, which will make the app more useful and relevant (I only hope marketers don't go hog wild on this).
As someone who is unbelievably reliant upon a Smartphone for, well, just about everything - searching, texting, emailing, uploading, downloading, sharing, and so on - I can attest to the reality of 'sore thumbs syndrome. Anything that helps alleviate this, and is useful, is very interesting to me.
Plus, it's just way cool.