Image recognition online and in-store

Have you ever seen something new and wondered where you could get one for yourself? Of course you have. Up til recently, you’ve had two options: ask the owner about it right then and there, or troll the internet with your best guess as to appropriate keywords so you can find it. In 2011, Google introduced Search by Image, which allows users to drag an drop an image into Search. Google uses image recognition technology to find best matches to your photo. Internet retailers like ebay are exploring this technology to make mobile shopping experiences easier. Do you like that car, those shoes, that watch? Point, snap, search, buy!

Image recognition works both, ways, however. Not only can shoppers use it to search for similar products online, but retailers in Japan can use facial recognition to identify repeat customers and tailor shop windows to their preferences. Some stores already use security cameras to record shopper traffic, and could use similar cameras use these to track individual consumers. Other stores, mainly in Europe, are using “spy mannequins” equipped with cameras to provide similar tracking data. This technology has allowed stores to make store displays more relevant, but it can make shoppers uncomfortable. In the U.S., the FTC has issued opt-in guidelines for facial recognition. For the truly paranoid among us, there’s always camera-confounding makeup.







4 thoughts on “Image recognition online and in-store

  1. Hmmm…I like where you’re going with this! Do you think anyone would notice if I slapped on some KISS-inspired makeup before I made my next trek to Walmart? 🙂

  2. As an interesting sidenote, Google licensed the ESP Game to create Google Image Search. The ESP Game is one of Luis Von Ahn’s Games With A Purpose, to direct the millions of hours online users spend on the computer to something useful that benefits society. The ESP Game specifically focused on labels for images. One of his more famous creations, re-CAPTCHA, is a security system that stops spam bots in their tracks, and digitizes books at the same time!

    Could marketers create an online game that lets consumers voluntarily share their preferences without seeming as invasive and creepy as the European “spy mannequins”?

    • Lindsay, thanks for the links to Von Ahn’s games – I was not familiar with them. And I had no idea that re-CAPTCHA is used to digitize books. I think that people would be much more likely to share information with an online game – but I wonder how this would work in a retail environment? Perhaps with a kiosk like this one at Tesco.

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