Nokia has been showing off some of the R&D it does at its Nokia Research Centre at its The Way We Live Next show in Finland. One of the most amazing services it was keen to talk about was its Point&Find solution, which literally links the real world to the virtual world via your camera phone.
The concept is simple. Wherever you are in the real world, you’ll see objects that you’ll want more information about, such as film posters, books, statues, restaurants, etc. You might want more details of a film being advertised on a poster, for example, or find out why a statue was created, or even how good a restaurant’s food is.
Nokia’s Point&Find solution lets you find this out with your camera phone instantly.
See how after the jump.
Using the Point&Find service, you simply take a photo of the object you want more info on and send it to the Point&Find server. Using complex artificial intelligence algorithms, Point&Find is able to determine what the object is, find information about it, and then send it back to you.
So you take a picture of a restaurant, send it to Point&Find, and get back reviews of the restaurant, plus reviews of similar restaurants in the area.
No barcodes, RFID or other physical identifiers are needed – the service works out what the image is of using AI, GPS positioning and image processing algorithms. Better still, it’ll work with any camera phone and any mobile network, as all the hard work is done on the server.
There’s no info yet on how well this service works, but Nokia are serious about implementing it. If it works well, it will effectively turn real world objects into hyperlinks via your camera phone.
Indeed, such is the potential of this technology that you can imagine it shaping the world around us. Even if the technology works only 50% of the time when launched, you can imagine that in, say, ten years’ time or so, it will be perfected, and everyone will become used to taking photos of objects and getting back info on them. In other words, the real world will just become an extension of the Web, with objects acting as hyperlinks.
Will we then see a competition amongst shops to ensure their shop window is individual enough to be uniquely identified every time by the service? Rather than having generic shops in generic shopping malls, we could have a Las Vegas-like experience, in which every store front has to capture the attention not just of the shopper, but also of the Point&Find service, and so goes out of its way to be as individual as possible.
You could also imagine people using this service, with information coming from Facebook. Imagine taking a photo of someone on a bus and getting their Facebook profile. Stalker heaven, you might think, but enough people are wannabe celebrities that you can see them opening their profile up and actively encouraging people to find out more about them.
Of all the mobile phone companies, Nokia are currently the most forward thinking at the moment. Whereas other companies are fighting purely with handsets, Nokia seem to have the vision to go beyond the gadgets and are truly innovating in both the software and services arenas. Point&Find sounds so fantastic it’s almost science fiction. We should see it become reality soon.