Visual search is the stuff of legend … the possibility of having the full information of the internet available by simply glancing at an object of interest. Architects are often expected to be experts on every building, park, and landmark on every possible street–while we are versed in style and construction, the complete knowledge of every structure in every city is impossible. Phind is a new mobile technology that identifies an image of any place (landmark, attraction, statue, business, etc.) taken by a user and provides relevant information aggregated from the top service providers (such as Foursquare, Yelp, Wikipedia, Factual, etc.).
The Architechnologist met with the co-founders of Phind at the TechCrunch:Disrupt conference to experience the new application first-hand. The demonstration of the technology was incredible, but left us wanting–not because it wasn’t amazing, but because we were not able to use it first-hand right then. On our trip home from the conference, I did… and Phind fared very well in the dense street-scape of New York City. During our very limited test-run, Phind’s results, history, and facts, photos and reviews, recommendations and promotions were all correct based on the location, but the identification of the actual photo was not as accurate as I would have hoped. The combination of the two data-points (image and location) was what made it work.
One thing that makes Phind particularly unique (and also may be one of its limitations) is that the data library for identifying the subject is entirely their own–images for comparison are only collected and vetted by the team at Phind. The co-founders see the possibility of opening up the library to “super-users” on the road-map, but no plans have been made as yet.
For the tourist and the tour-guide, Phind does appear to be a potentially incredible asset. As augmented reality continues to evolve and, hopefully, become more widely accessible, services like Phind will become the next great resource.