Amazon recently updated its mobile shopping app with a new tool called Flow that allows customers to identify products by holding the items in front of their iPhone camera. Flow was developed in 2011 by Amazon’s A9 division, and the technology has been kicking around in a standalone app released by the A9 team.
Flow allows customers to use the camera on their iPhone to identify a wide range of products including books, household goods and paper products. Rather than scan one product at a time, Flow can scan multiple products in succession and the app will identify them. The app uses image recognition technology to match the product labeling in the camera with the product in Amazon’s vast retail catalog. Customers can save the product for later purchase or keep scanning items around the room.
Amazon is pushing the app as an easy way to create a shopping list, but many people will use it to showroom items in brick and mortar stores. In this practice, customers visit a retailer like Best Buy and scan products to see how the in-store prices compare to Amazon’s virtual retail shelves.
The Flow feature will be embedded in Amazon’s Mobile shopping app which is available for free from the iOS App Store.