Point and find with your cellphone

NO MORE WINDOW SHOPPING!: A Nokia engineer points a mobile at a film poster for identification and booking details.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Anand Parthasarathy

Anand Parthasarathy

Bangalore: You are strolling through the main shopping area in your town. As you pass a clothing store, you notice a dress displayed in the window that catches your fancy. The shop is crowded with shoppers and you don’t care to join the rush. So you just point your mobile phone at the display and click a special button.

This triggers a software in your handset that “recognises” the item on display, identifies the shop and within seconds, your phone’s screen gives you the full details of the dress on show: the material used; the colours available; and the sizes in which it comes, with their prices.

If you decide you want to try it on, you can now enter the shop; if you prefer, you can order it to be delivered at home and pay for it with a few more clicks.

This is the stuff of tomorrow — being tested and perfected today in the development labs of Nokia.

It is called “Point and Find,” and at the company’s annual developer event in Barcelona last week, an engineer helped me experience an even more compelling demonstration of the technology: I pointed a phone at a cinema poster advertising the upcoming Hollywood release, The Day the Earth Stood Still, which opens worldwide on Friday next. Image recognition software quickly identified the film as the current, that is, 2008 title (eliminating the 1951 film of the same name) and brought up on the display, a link to a trailer of the film, as well as a synopsis and cast list.

The phone had a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) chip, which worked out where on earth I was standing, located the nearest multiplex that would be screening the film and linked me to the theatre’s booking system. I could reserve seats if I chose to!

Nokia’s Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo offers a new buzzword for this sort of service: So-Lo or Social Location. Technologies such as ‘Point and Find’ on our mobile phones, give each of us a new identity, he says. “Phones will figure out who we are and where we are — and lead us to the precise information we seek.”

‘Point and find’ can be a reality as early as next year, Nokia’s India-based vice-president Shiv Shivakumar promises.