Searching for information using images/photos will soon be a reality with the project that Microsoft Research is working on: Photo2Search. That handy gadget you’ve been coveting is on sale at the mall. How does its price compare to those offered elsewhere? Take a picture. Photo2Search gives users a way to search a Web-based database by using nothing more than an image captured by a cellphone equipped with a digital camera. Camera phones are simple to use, but the process of text-based search on them is not. That realization provided the late-2004 genesis for Phone2Search.

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I see a lot of possibilities for this technology in Retail: especially for retailers like Home Depot and Lowes where a customer does not know what a component/part is called but can take a picture of it to find details and prices.

At the recent DemoFall 2006, a company called Imaginestics demonstrated a similar technology (in a product called 3D-Seek) for searching using images. Click here for demo. Click here to try 3D-Seek.