I’m still rather excited about yesterday’s kooaba launch. I’ve been thinking about how long this technology will take to break into the mainstream, and it strikes me that getting people to adopt it is going to take some work.
When people first started using the internet, the idea of search engines didn’t need much promotion. People were very clearly lost, and needed some tool to find the interesting content. Adopting search engines was reactive, rather than active.
Visual search is not like that. If kooaba or others do succeed in building a tool that lets you snap a picture of any object or scene and get information, well, people may completely ignore it. They’re not lost – visual search is a useful extra, not a basic necessity. The technology may never reach usage levels seen by search engines. That said, it’s clearly very useful, and I can see it getting mass adoption. It’ll just need education and promotion. Shazam is great example of a non-essential search engine that’s very useful and massively popular.
So, promotion, and lots of it. What’s the best way? Well, most of the different mobile visual search startups are currently running trail campaigns involving competitions and magazine ads (for example this SnapTell campaign). Revenue for the startups, plus free public education on how to use visual search. Not a bad deal, easy to see why all the companies are doing it. The only problem is that it may get the public thinking that visual search is only about cheap promotions, not useful for anything real. That would be terrible for long-term usage. I rather prefer kooaba’s demo based on movie posters – it reinforces a real use case, plus it’s got some potential for revenues too.