Now that the new iPhone 3G S has a video camera, TechStars startup Occipital has released an update to its RedLaser app (iTunes link, $1.99) which speeds up barcode scanning by not requiring you to first take a picture. Occipital claims that its “realtime barcode scanner” is the only one which works on phones with both autofocus (the new 3G S) and without (the older iPhone and iPod Touch). Other barcode scanning apps, such as ShopSavvy’s, can also take advantage of the autofocus camera on the 3G S, but can’t do on-the-fly scanning on the older models.
Like other barcode scanning apps, many of which are free, RedLaser looks up price comparisons in an ever-growing product database. The utility of these apps is really determined by how good the back-end database is more than the scanning technology itself. But RedLaser is really more of a technology demo for Occipital, which is developing some some impressive mobile visual search technologies. The scanning technology is available to other developers through an SDK.
Here is a video of the app in action:
I am more excited by what Occipital has in the works for more sophisticated visual-recognition apps. Last year, at a TechStars Demo Day which Don Dodge covered for us, he explained
They can stitch photos together into a panorama, automatically label and tag photos, and construct 3D scenes from your photos. They can zoom in, fly over, step inside buildings…all based on simple photos stitched together into a 3D presentation. They find objects in your photos and link them to the same or similar objects in other photos and stitch them together. This is hard to explain with words, but the visual demo was amazing.
Below is a video of a prototype visual-navigation app Occipital is working on. When can I get that on my iPhone?