The Flow technology (above: shown on Android) is now integrated in Amazon for iOS

Amazon has recently updated its iOS mobile app to let users add products directly by taking pictures of them. In some ways, works like previous apps that would let buyers scan the bar codes to find what the lowest prices. Since this app uses a database of known product images, it tends to work best with packaged good, and not fruits and vegetables. Packaging boxes are easier to identify because a “fingerprint” can be reliably generated from the packaging artwork.

It’s not obvious why this would be faster/better than using a barcode since I would expect the error rate to be higher because the barcodes are more resilient in image recognition terms. Also, the barcode database is more likely to be up to date since it is impervious to packaging design changes.

However, it’s nice that someone is working on refining this concept, and sometime in the future, this method could prove reliable and fast enough that using it would feel more natural and a bit of a no-brainer. With the rise of Amazon Fresh (which works pretty well by the way), it is logical that Amazon tries to give buyers new ways to add products to their shopping carts.

Flow has been developed by A9, a subsidiary of Amazon. The app has been around for some time and is presented by its developer as an augmented reality (AR) application that is capable of identifying products and providing additional information about them. It can also spot phone number or web URLs and let you call or navigate to those on the spot. It uses the image of the product from a live camera to do this, but is also able to use barcodes to achieve the same result.

Filed in Cellphones >Shopping. Read more about Amazon.

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