Evolution Robotics has finally found a home for its generic product recognition technology. The firm will embed it in camera phones from Japan's Bandai Networks in the spring.
The technology is impressive. You take a photograph of an item and send it off to Evolution's servers, which identify it and send back a suitable URL. That URL might link to a Wikipedia entry about the building or statue, or an Amazon page from which you can buy the book or toy truck.
The firm gives the example of a CD cover, and the technology works impressively well - the company has posted a video of an iPhone version of its client, which technology blog Gizmodo reckons is lined up for a June launch.
Evolution has had the software for a while, and won an innovation award for it at CTIA back in 2005. Since then, the firm has been looking for an application. It was hoping to sell the technology to supermarkets, under the brand "Lane Hawk", to spot items that shoppers had "forgotten" to place on the conveyer, but it seems the supermarkets decided a well-placed mirror was a cheaper, and equally effective, alternative.
The demonstrations work well enough, but scaling the technology up to recognise anything - from a baby's doll to a car tyre - is a significant challenge.
The company is confident the technology can do it and, if it can prove the concept with Bandai in Japan, perhaps everyone else will start taking it seriously. ®