Well well. Hot on the heals of kooaba, competitor SnapTell just released an iPhone client for their visual search engine. A little sleuthing reveals that the index contains 2.5 million items – apparently most books, DVDs, CDs and game covers. If the recognition rate is as high as it should be, that’s a pretty impressive achievement. In principle the service was already available via email/mms. In practice, an iPhone client changes the experience completely. Image search becomes the fastest way to get information about anything around you.
I really think this technology is going to take off big-time in the near future. The marketing intelligentsia are aware of this too. There is an adoption challenge, but SnapTell in particular are already running an excellent high profile education/promotion campaign with print magazines. They’re not messing about either: The campaign is running in Rolling Stone, GQ, Men’s Health, ESPN, Wired and Martha Stewart Weddings. In short, publications that reach a substantial chunk of the reading public. Whether the message will carry over that the technology is good for more than signing up for free deoderant samples is something I’m a little skeptical about, but in the short term it’s a ready revenue stream for the startup, and a serious quantity of collateral publicity.
Usage report later when I can get hold of an iPhone.
Update: I just got to try it, and it’s really rather good. First impressions here.