iPhone Image Recognition: Snap And Tell

Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a picture of a book someone is reading in your local coffee shop and before the sugar sinks into your cappucino you have all the data on it and where you can buy it.

Or similarly, what if you could snap a billboard as you hurtle down the 101 (preferably with someone else driving) and before you reach your destination you’ve already pulled up more details on the concert being advertized and bought tickets.

Palo Alto-based SnapTell has the solution. Their image matching technology handles real life photos snapped on the majority of cell phones and parses these against a growing database of products. They are also able to extract text from pictures and use this to drive search.

The company has recently launched an iPhone app – read Jason Kincaid’s review.

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Microsoft Is (A)Live With Photo Sharing, Social Roll Out While Apple Searches

Microsoft has rearchitected its Live.com portal to be more of a social network on which users can pull in data from various sources and interact with their friends. TechCrunch has more coverage:

Users are automatically connected with any friends they have on Windows Live Messenger, which is by far the most popular instant messaging service worldwide (Comscore: Microsoft Messenger has 268 million worldwide users, compared to 116 million for Yahoo and 6 million for Google Talk).

Users are asked to build out their profile, and can also bring in content they create on blogs (or any RSS feeds, Flickr, LinkedIn, Pandora, Photobucket, iLike, Twitter, WordPress and Yelp. When you do something new on those sites, the information flows into Live.com for your friends to see (in a very similar way as FriendFeed, Plaxo and others do today). Eventually, says Microsoft, more than 50 partners will be supported. When users add photos, write reviews, and update their profiles directly on Live.com, that content will be put into the activity stream as well.

The hope, of course, is to get people to hang out a lot more at Live.com. At least those people who use Messenger, since they already have their contacts established. Like Yahoo, Microsoft is going with its strengths, which in their case is instant messaging.

Microsoft’s software plus services strategy has clearly infiltrated Live.com as well as their approach with Office. Live.com users can now access a variety of online services like mail, calendar, photos, online storage, etc., as well as downloaded services that include a mail client, instant messaging, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, the Toolbar and other services. And now it’s also one big social network.

Included in this new roll out is a photo sharing site call Live Photos. ReadWriteWeb has a solid review.

They point out that the slideshow background changes color depending on the dominant color in the photo being displayed at any given time – this is an interesting feature and points to photo sharing services growing their intelligence of what is taking place inphoto as it were.

Furthermore:

You can share your albums with very granular permissions, and also share individual photos. Every photo can be tagged and your visitors can also leave comments.

On the other side of the spectrum, Apple is reported to be working on a search engine. This one’s more of a rumor than substantiated Valley lore at the moment. Again from TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington.

Google Insights: Search Trends Revealed

Google recently released its Insights product, which Andrew Chen describes as an insanely useful product. If you are a trendfollower or coolhunter then this is absolutely true.

Be warned though, as with many things in life, you get out what you put in – read Eric Schonfeld’s take on inputting “twitter” rather than “twitter.com” for a true representation of the microblogging tool’s US coverage.

Google Search 2.0 = Digg Plus Friendfeed

The following video sourced from TechCrunch outlines a possible next iteration of Google Search. It’s very interesting to note the inclusion of Digg-like vote up/down features as well as on-search comments and profiling a la Friendfeed.

Should Google go ahead and implement this new feature set it will make search an order of magnitude more social.

Powerset Your Wikipedia Experience

PARC spinout Powerset has released its public beta: a search facility across Wikipedia.

I like the way their search solution collates data from a range of sources within Wikipedia. I like the way this data is presented. However, I’m disappointed that they are only searching across Wikipedia. After all the hype and the build up, I would’ve thought Powerset could’ve been more ambitious and gone for a wider beta sample.

Watch the demo video, but be warned … it may leave you feeling underwhelmed:


Powerset Demo Video from officialpowerset on Vimeo.

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Credibility-based search arrives, courtesy of hakia

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Semantic search engine hakia has added credibility-stamping to its health related search results.

Forrester research has determined that as many as 30% of searchers question the quality of the information they receive via a search engine. With that in mind, this move by hakia is a welcome one in an area where popularity pales in comparison to getting results right.

Results will be provided from sources that meet the quality criteria set by the Medical Library Association.

hakia-search-engine-beta.jpg

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