Instant Product Lookup from the iPhone

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News Posted: Sat, Nov 22 2008 11:27 PM

Imagine being able to take a picture of a CD, DVD, book, or video game on your cell phone and then receiving ratings and pricing information within just a few seconds. Now, with the new SnapTell Explorer application for the iPhone, you can do just that. This free application is now available from the AppStore.

Jason Kincaid over at TechCrunch put this app through its paces and was pretty impressed, claiming the app correctly identified nearly everything he threw at it, including Xbox games, Pocketbook O’Reilly manuals, The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Wisdom, Kurt Vonegut novels, and a number of obscure books. What’s more, the app even IDed a copy of Civilization 4 even though it was covered with price tags and stickers. Kincaid tried to make the application fail by taking photos in poor lighting and at odd angles, but that the app continued to work flawlessly. Even so, he noted that the product doesn’t offer a way to view prices across multiple stores, and that the app could use a little work in terms of being able to view basic rating information and descriptions right after you’ve located a product.

Of course, speed is helpful when using this app: While SnapTell supports EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution), it takes 10-15 seconds to upload an image, compared to just a few moments when you’re connected via Wi-Fi or 3G.

Snaptell plans to bring the application to Android soon, and we can only hope other platforms as well. In addition to product image lookup, the Android version is said to support barcode lookup, which isn’t very functional on the iPhone.

For users who don’t currently have an iPhone or other supported phone, you can access similar information on other handsets by snapping a picture and sending it via MMS to or by using the shortcode SNAPIT (762748).

Given the number of times we’ve been at our favorite retail stores and wondered if a particular book or game was worth our hard-earned dough and was also reasonably priced, we can definitely see the benefits of this type of technology.

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Nov 23 2008 5:32 PM

That is pretty amazing technology. Impressive... like Shazam for everything else?

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tanka12345 replied on Sun, Nov 23 2008 10:51 PM

Great feature....too bad wireless internet is too expensive here in NZ Sad

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