Instant Visual Recognition is Here


Soon, owners of smart phones will be able to learn about and buy almost anything they find in the real world through instant visual recognition, or IVR.

What is IVR? It’s a collection of technology platforms created mostly for mobile phones that allow people with smart phones to point at objects and people and instantly retrieve related information. These platforms use QR codes, augmented reality, tagging, instant visual search and the power of crowd-sourced social sites to identify objects and retrieve information.

Here are a just a few mobile technologies and apps that are already taking advantage of these emerging technologies.

Word Lens

WordLens is an app that uses the camera on your smartphone to to translate printed text on menus or signs from Spanish or French into English. Or vice versa.

Where to Get It

Where to Get It is a French website that invites users to post photos of fashion items they see on the street, and asks other users of the site where they can find those items.


eBay announced recently that instant visual recognition technology would be incorporated into its next generation of mobile application, allowing users to take photos of real-world objects and find similar items for sale on eBay.

Amazon Flow

This app, which was released in 2011, allows users to point their phones at books, games, DVDs or CDs and instantly find purchase information.

Google Goggles

This image recognition technology is incorporated into the Google App for iPhone and Android phones. It allows you to take a picture of landmarks, books, artwork and logos, and instantly be directed to information on the item.

There are also a growing number of platforms that are allowing marketers to deliver a better experience to their customers at point of sale and after the purchase. Here are two of my favorites:


This app-based promotional platform allows a user to point their camera at a poster, product or object, which triggers an augmented reality experience.


Metaio creates augmented reality manuals and guides, allowing purchasers of a new product to get step by step visual instructions as they are opening the box.

These are just a few examples of how IVR technology is already changing the way people find information and products. The implications of this technology for marketers are enormous.

Now anyone with a smart phone will be able to know about any real world object or person they meet almost instantly. And soon, consumers will be able to buy almost anything they see just pointing, shooting and clicking a purchase button.

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