Nokia unveils image recognition search capability

Camera phones could take a massive leap forward if Nokia is able to turn its proposed Point & Find service into a commercial reality. The company's R&D labs have demoed a prototype handset where a picture is taken with the integrated camera and the user receives back relevant information about what is in the image using real-time information from the Internet.

While Nokia admitted it could be three years before this technology becomes available, the technology is already said to be attracting attention for the potential it offers to make targeted information available to consumers just by using their camera phone. One scenario is where the user wants to buy the photographed item seen, for example, in a shop window, the phone then initiates a search for the item's best price and availability, before allowing the user to purchase it online.

However, the Point & Find service will need to incorporate a number of technological elements, including GPS positioning, image recognition and artificial intelligence algorithms. Nokia said that the image processing would take place on servers within the operator's back-office networks and could be used for many applications, even language translation.

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