Friday, April 18, 2008

2008 - The Year of MVS (Mobile Visual Search)?

KDDI just announced today that it will launch a new "visual" search capability this Spring. With this technology, KDDI subscribers with these phones will be able to use their camera to take a photograph of something (this article mentions things such as CD covers or Wine bottle labels) and immediately get search results related to these objects.

The engine behind this search tool is a company out of the U.S. called Evolution Robotics and its ViPR object recognition software. A demo of this software running on the iPhone shows how you can take photos of different things and get search results returned via email.

Earlier this week, our friends over at Wireless Watch Japan clued us into a new Google Android GPS Application that allows users to have a computer-mediated mapping and navigation services available through Android-enabled mobile phones.

These, and the many other related solutions that I haven't mentioned are truly amazing, and suggest that in the near future we will see a number of attempts to use the mobile phone as a bridge between the "real world" and digital information related to it.

But beyond the hype, I'm very interested in seeing how these new technologies can and will be used by mobile consumers. Are these recent announcements true harbingers of the future, or will they lead to consumer apathy and confusion?

Today's announcement from KDDI, Bandai and Evolution Robotics suggests that it will only be a matter of a little more time before we get some initial answers to these questions. But in order to succeed, the user interface must be extremely elegant, the database overly robust, and the value of such services versus competing technologies must be clearly communicated.

Will this be the future? Let me know what you think!

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