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If Shazam ‘Sees,’ Retailers Might Sing

The music identification app Shazam has “ears,” as it were; now, retailers are hoping it will get some eyes, too.

Shazam Chief Product Officer Daniel Danker told CNBC that the company is developing visual recognition technology to complement its audio-based tech. If such an integration were successful, Shazam could become a valuable tool for shoppers who want to easily identify a product — either in a store or online — in turn making it of potentially even greater import to retailers.

“Shazam in retail could help you keep track of the products you care about, compare prices,” Danker told the outlet. “There’s a million ideas around it. They all build on the magic of Shazam, which is that dead-simple experience of tapping a button and connecting with the world around you.”

While other companies, such as the startup Spylight, have made strides in applying “Shazam-like” technology towards the identification of consumer products, Shazam itself — flush with capital concurrent to a $1 billion valuation last January — certainly appears to have the means for seriously exploring the possibility of adding a true visually linked component to its services.

The question that remains, though, is basic feasibility.

Count Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, a principal analyst for Forrester Research, among the skeptics. She believes that Shazam has a heck of a road to climb, as the complexities of applying image recognition to the retail space — with just so many images out there — has even given titans like Google and Amazon difficulty.

“I applaud [Shazam] for the effort but think this is going to be a tough problem for [the company] to solve,” Mulpuru-Kodali told CNBC.

“The idea, though, of telling a consumer, ‘We did audio recognition, now we can do image recognition’ is a very easily understandable idea, great for marketing,” she noted, “but really hard to execute well.”

 

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