February 6, 2014
Amazon adds a new image-recognition capability to its shopping app
The tool, called “Flow,” allows shoppers to identify products from their home or brick-and-mortar stores by holding a camera-equipped phone in front of the object. Behind the scenes, Amazon’s technology matches the object’s identifying traits—logos, artwork or other labeling—with its own database of images. If it has a product with similar markings, it adds it to a shopping list.
Flow is Amazon’s attempt to upgrade smartphone barcode scanners, which have given consumers a lot more power to check and compare prices, especially in stores. Barcodes are small and often require the smartphone camera to focus; also, in many cases they must be scanned individually. Flow earned its name because multiple objects can be scanned all at once, by simply waving the phone across them in succession.
Flow has been around for several years in standalone apps, ut this marks the first time Amazon has integrated it into its popular mobile shopping app.
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