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See It, Snap It, Search It

With object-recognition technology, one day you'll be able to take a picture of a movie poster with your cell phone and instantly get showtimes and trailers for that flick.

By Sidra Durst, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Picture this: You're hiking in the woods when a spider gives you a painful bite. Instead of panicking, you snap a photo of the spider with your cell phone and e-mail the image to a poison control website. The site sorts through its image database and sends back a match: The spider is harmless.

That's the kind of service envisioned in the next few years by two companies working on object-recognition software, targeting a market of 83 million American camera-phone users. Santa Monica-based Neven Vision - which was bought by Google (Charts) in August - specializes in face-recognition technology. It developed a mobile mug-book for the LAPD, so cops can snap suspects and make instant matches.

Mobot, based in Lexington, Mass., focuses on recognizing objects and logos. "You're going to see a lot of interesting stuff happen in 2007," says Mobot vice president Kevin Wells. He's partnering with wireless carriers on movie promotions that let you snap a pic of a movie poster and instantly get showtimes and trailers for that flick, right on your phone.

"Typing words on a cell phone is hard," says Julie Ask, a wireless analyst for JupiterResearch. "Anything you can use photos for is much easier." Top of page

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