TORONTO Aug 26 A new app lets shoppers flipping
through retail flyers purchase items that catch their eye using
image recognition technology.
The iOS app Pounce allows shoppers to scan images they spot
in print media with their device's camera, then purchase the
item online directly from the retailer running the
"We are able to match an image with an actual product
available online," said Avital Yachin, chief executive of
BuyCode, Inc, the Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that developed
the app, one of a growing number of apps using image recognition
to bridge the physical and online worlds of e-commerce.
"Our vision is to allow purchasing of any product in any
print ad," he said, adding that the company plans to expand to
catalogs, magazines and billboards.
The Pounce app recognizes products that its retailing
partners, which include Staples Inc, Target Corp
, Toys "R" Us Inc and Ace Hardware Corp
, sell online.
After scanning an image, the app displays the item's price
and shipping cost, then allows shoppers to make the purchase
directly from the retailer.
Other companies such as eBay and Amazon have apps that use
image recognition to identify objects such as books, cars and
even clothing to help shoppers find similar items in their
"The potential of image recognition lies in its ability to
determine the make and model of any item in the world,
especially those that consumers are otherwise unable to
identify," said Steve Yankovich, the VP of Innovation and New
Ventures at eBay Inc.
EBay has experimented with adding image recognition to their
eBay Fashion and eBay Motors iPhone apps. With eBay Fashion, for
example, users can upload an image and the app will suggest
items that have similar colors, styles, and fabric.
Its RedLaser app for iPhone and Android allows users to take
photos of items and shows similar items available for sale at
retailers online and locally, which eBay says fosters its main
mission of partnering with retailers, not competing with them.
Yankovich predicts that image recognition technology will
help make shopping more seamless as it evolves over the next 10
Amazon's app Flow, for iPhone and Android, allows users to
use the camera to identify a product sold on Amazon and get such
details as its description, reviews and video or audio clips.
The company says the app can recognize packaged goods with
distinguishable features such as books, DVDs or even items such
as candy bars or a box of cereal. Users can then read reviews
and purchase them from the online retailer.
But Yachin said it will be some time yet before consumers
can identify everyday items such as clothing on another person.
"The broader vision of recognizing real-world objects will
take a little longer," he said, adding that the technology
relies on a large database of product images.
Pounce is free and available in the United States, with
plans to expand to Canada and Europe. Amazon Flow is only
available in the United States and is free and EBay Fashion is
also free and available worldwide.