Wednesday, 1st November 2006
Mobile, Mobile, and More Mobile: New Services, Tools, and Stuff
When mobile search and access to information becomes a regular part of our daily lives, no one will be able to say that ResourceShelf wasn't on the scene early.
Smart Money alerts us to a new mobile search service that lets you do comparison shopping via your mobile device and UPC symbols. It's called Frucall.
Here's how it works. Call 1-888-DO-FRUCALL (1-888-36-378-2255), and type in the barcode number of the item you're shopping for. The service uses Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Street Prices and Shopping.com to get results. Within seconds, an automated voice will tell you price ranges for a new item, noting in a separate range the prices for used items, if available. Shipping estimates are included.
Neat idea, the federated search is new but the concept is not. Services like Smarter.com have offered SMS-based shopping for years. Smarter.com even offers a section where they do a head-to-head comparison of their service vs. Google.
UPDATED: Brian Smith on Smarter's New Visual Search
In fact, in Japan you've been able to use your cameraphone to search and compare product prices for three years. We made note of this in this post about a related area, cameraphone searching. This post has an overview.
Our second story, this time from News.com, "Lost? Try asking your cell phone," discusses technology from GeoVector that is currently not available in the U.S., but we're sure it's only a matter of time. Like comparison shopping before it, it's available in Japan.
The software is fairly self-explanatory. Point the phone at a building, and the phone will troll the Internet and bring back information on what you're looking at. Punch in "Chinese restaurant," and it will list the nearby ones and give you walking directions.
I'm sure all of the majors are working on similar technology and we've written about MS Research doing lots of work in cameraphone searching.
+ Semacode and Semapedia (the Wikipedia + Cameraphone search). Don't also forget Mobot.
+ Loki (not for mobile devices, yet, but very cool and in most cases (we've used it a lot) works well). Uses wi-fi signals to pinpoint your location and then return local info from movie houses to local train stations to the closest Dunkin Donuts or Kinkos. Super cool. More here.
+ Sprint and Nextel Now Offering Location-Based Search Powered by MapQuest
Note: The service is now live.