Snap a picture to shop

Author: Katie Cribbs
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla.- You know you can shop online, but simple searching is so early 2014.  Leading retailers and tech giants are racing to go even more high tech where all you need is a photo of a product and a smart phone to purchase or find what you want.

“A lot of times, I’ll find, I’ll see things in, like, a magazine or an ad, so I’ll go and try to look that up and it can be kinda difficult to find,” said Sandra Bohlken, an app tester.

We asked Bohlken to try out the ‘In a Snap’ app, Target’s new move to nab mobile-minded shoppers. Here’s how it works. Download the app. When you see the app icon on specific ads in magazines or in a store, just take a picture.

“It takes a picture of the entire ad and so then I have an option of all the different things in the ad,” said Bohlken.

And buy right then and there. We caught up with Target’s Eddie Baeb in the lab where the app was developed.

“I think, clearly, technology is changing the way we shop, whether it’s image recognition, visual search, augmented reality, These are all things we’re testing,” said Baeb.

It’s not just Target using image recognition technology. At, you can input an image of must-have shoes, and a visual search tool will either match the product exactly, or bring up look-a-likes. Apple has the Camfind app, which recognizes and describes items. And Google has long been in the forefront of the recognition game with its Google “Goggles” app.

There are limitations. Sometimes recognition tools are slow and they can’t ID everything, at least not yet. Google, for example, says the goggles are better at recognizing things like books, landmarks and products, but not so hot at some things, including apparel.

Privacy attorney David Straite says tracking location is common with images unless you take precautions.

“Where it starts to become a problem is when you take pictures of human faces, or when the metadata starts to allow surveillance technology to associate people, places, and time,” said Straite.

If you wonder what information is collected and possibly shared on specific apps, there are privacy policies listed once you download. Be aware, once you click over to a company site for purchase, you then fall under website privacy rules, where more information may potentially be collected and shared.

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