Tuesday, May 6, 2008

eyePhone - Your tourist guide

I've stumbled upon this article recently and thought might be worth sharing with you.

If we put the name of this software aside a bit (it obviously tries to ride the waves of iPhone), the idea is great. Take a smartphone being able to

  • take good quality photos
  • use GPS
  • communicate over Internet
and you have your on-line tourist guide always at hand. It doesn't require too much from the handset, no? I bet even a good feature phone would do.

Of course, the client software shall not be too thick, most of the business logic is on server-side, right? An average (phone) camera quality should be enough, a Bluetooth-attached GPS is sufficient and basically every mobile phone can transmit data over the net lately. Okay, if an angle sensor is also part of the phone, then the client can gather more data that eventually makes recognition more accurate.

As opposed to the client-side, the server must be very intelligent. Image recognition can be very complex, since poor image resolution, distant objects, pictures taken from different angles, etc. can make it very-very tricky if not impossible. Yeah, I know that the article mentions that the concept was proved, but I believe it only when I see it, you know. Obviously, the solution must be community-driven - you cannot expect any service providers to maintain such a big database alone. And I'm sure that from business point of view it's the server-side software that one can license, whilst the client software would be available free of charge. At least, that would make sense.

Finally, it's very interesting that others are also making experiments in this area.
  • Android Scan is an application written for Android Developer Challenge that uses camera and mobile processing power for barcode recognition and scanning for metadata of CDs, DVDs, books on the internet.
  • Nokia also develops navigating system based on image recognition, where you can just "take a picture of a nearby landmark, like the Golden Gate Bridge, with the camera in your mobile phone. Then, Nokia will match your photo with other landmark photos in its mapping database, and tell you where you are."
  • J-MAGIC is a Japanese company that "sees market for picture-based search", too.
And the list is by far not complete. I wonder who will come up with the most innovative idea bundled with a sustainable revenue on the service so that both sides (i.e. consumers and providers) get what they want.

Any thoughts?


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