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Shazam to expand beyond music with object recognition feature

By Jos
Mar 6, 2015
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    Song recognition app Shazam is planning to expand beyond music and into the visual world. Speaking at this year’s Mobile World Congress, chief executive Rich Riley said the app will soon let users identify products and learn more about them simply by pointing their smartphone camera to them. You could, for example, scan a cereal box in the grocery store to get more nutritional information or a DVD case at home to buy the movie soundtrack.

    The company will reportedly partner with publishers, content and packaged goods companies to grow its database of products, as well as with Gimbal to recognize “beacons” so that the app can be more location-aware.

    To fund the new venture Shazam raised $30 million from several unidentified investors and financial institutions in January. This followed another $40 million in 2013, with the company reportedly now valued at over $1 billion.

    The report doesn’t go into detail as to how the technology would work but it’s possible it’ll use a combination of barcode scanning and image recognition.

    Similar services already exist, of course, including the Firefly feature on Amazon Fire phones and Google’s Goggles app. Other examples include CamFind and Asap54, which specializes in recognizing fashion items. But with a reported 100 million monthly active users Shazam is in a unique position to become a shopping force in its own right and attract lucrative ad deals.

    The company currently sells songs that its users identify, having secured deals with major music services including Spotify and iTunes, and has remained among the top downloaded apps for years.

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