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Amazon Flow Uses Instant Image Recognition To Search Store

When you tap on Flow, the camera activates and Flow begins to analyze the objects you put in front of it.

Amazon's latest app update could turn your neighborhood department store into nothing more than a high-priced show room.

The update introduces Flow. It's part of Amazon's existing app, found within the search menu. When you tap on Flow, the camera activates and Flow begins to analyze the objects you put in front of it. 

Amazon's app has had an image recognition feature for a long time, but a writer for Gizmodo notes this is something different.

The old feature was called "Snap It," and required you to take a picture and then send it off to Amazon's servers for analysis. Which, as the writer puts it, "is kind of a pain in the butt because you don't know if your image is going to work until you've actually queried Amazon." (Via Gizmodo)

But with Flow, you'll get instant feedback. The feature is constantly pinging Amazon's servers, looking for the objects you place in front of the camera.

How well does it work? TIME's Harry McCracken detailed his experience with the app, and he says "pretty well."


"It recognized most packaged items available from Amazon ... It spotted an old issue of TIME in all the clutter, correctly identified it and gave me the opportunity to buy a copy." (Via TIME)

Although in our trials with the app, we noticed the technology defaults to logo recognition before anything else. So while scanning this image of apple juice, it knew the logo but not the product.

iDownloadBlog reports Flow has actually been available since January, but Amazon has just begun to promote it. Amazon app users may begin to notice a popup box showing off the new feature.

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