Amazon remembers your would-be whims with iPhone App

Amazon has just jumped into the iPhone app game with Amazon Remembers. The idea's pretty nifty: if you see something that you think you might want to remember to shop for later — a book, a coffee grinder, a novelty USB drive — you can simply take a picture of it with your iPhone camera. The image gets whisked away to Mechanical Turk, where an armada of bored grad students are tasked with identifying it. When Amazon has a plausible answer as to what the product in your photo is, you're sent an email giving a link to the product on Amazon. Easy. It sounds great. I'd really love to try this out, but unfortunately, I live overseas, and it's a US-only app right now. Anyone tried it? How's the accuracy? Amazon Remembers [Amazon]
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9 Responses to Amazon remembers your would-be whims with iPhone App

  1. sheshe says:

    well they failed on my box of tazo zen tea, which i buy from amazon regularly.

  2. CaptainKabob says:

    Is it wrong me me to want to take this to maker fairs and local craft shops? Not that I want to cause distress to the Turkers, but how will they deal with non-mass manufactured items?

    Also, how many people are going to upload photos of body parts? (I know I can’t be the first person to think of this)

    I would really like this service for art (who painted that? or who is it influenced by?) and dogs (what breed is that?) Can someone get on that? :-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    How can anyone ‘live overseas’? You live where you live. You can’t live over a sea from where you live.

  4. sheshe says:

    i love this idea! actually i just downloaded the app. my phone is full of text notes of books i want to buy in the future. this makes it so much easier than typing out a long author’s name on the iphone

  5. HeavyD14 says:

    I went in and did a few of the “hits.” At least half were things that were most definitely not for sale on Amazon (feet, people, milkshakes) or completely unidentifiable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    SHESHE – i don’t think Amazon sells books, do they?

  7. Josh Bancroft says:

    I spent quite a while yesterday playing with this. The accuracy is pretty good, and using human processors (versus algorithms, like SnapTell) is pretty clever. It seems that Amazon employs two HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) – one for $0.01 that says “is this photo identifiable and likely for sale on Amazon?” and then a second one that says “find this product for sale on Amazon”. You can see the HITs (and do some, if you want to earn a few cents) here:

    I’ve tested several items, and have been mostly impressed. The speed at which results were delivered increased as the day progressed – in the morning, right after launch, it took about five minutes. Later on, I was getting results emailed to me in about a minute. Accuracy-wise, here’s what I tried, and what the results were:

    • Amazon Kindle – nailed it
    • MacBook Pro power brick – nailed it
    • Timbuk2 Metro messenger bag – got it, but in a different color (my color is no longer available)
    • Picture of a DS Lite on my screen, from the Amazon product page – nailed it
    • Asus R2H UMPC – nailed it
    • Aiptek Action HD video camera – got the closest model Amazon offers (they don’t carry the exact Action HD model I have)
    • Cingular (HTC) 8525 smartphone – flubbed it. The linked to some other smartphone that looks kind of similar, but I’ve never heard of. Probably because the 8525 is a couple years old, and no longer listed on Amazon.

    Overall, the results have been quite impressive, and I’m looking forward to playing with it some more, not only for actual things I want to buy, but to try to probe the boundaries of what MTurk processors can handle. And to see if they have a sense of humor. :-)

  8. jonathon212 says:

    Why US only? How odd.
    I wonder what the difference is with ‘foreign’ objects? Computers in France are made of Pate?

    @#2 Anonymous Brownlee actually lives in a zeppellin above the Mediterranean, so literally overseas.
    Much like you live under a bridge.

  9. Peter S. Conrad says:

    The only thing I want to buy at the moment is the instrument this guy is playing:

    If you have not seen the video yet, take a look:

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