Ever seen a product in a store and wanted to find out more about it before buying? Even as textual search has improved by leaps and bounds ever since big data firms like Google started refining their algorithms using data analytics tools, image and video search still remains at its infancy. Now, a plucky little Taiwan-based startup aims to change that.
Founded by National Chengchi University alumni Amos Huang, Viscovery started life as Funwish, a visual search platform for the translation of Chinese characters. Soon after, the proliferation of mobile devices led the Funwish team to discover ample opportunities for visual search technologies to be used in everyday life, and Viscovery was born.
One of the products that has emerged from the team’s work is UR-Code, a visual recognition system for e-commerce. According to Viscovery, the name “UR-Code” stands for “Ultra-quick Response Code”, which signifies the speed by which customers can scan products directly. This is in contrast with QR code, which requires customers to find and focus the code within their phones’ cameras.
So how does UR-Code work? For the end user, it is very simple. They only need to point the phone’s camera at a product, and the UR-Code program will search for and identify it. Behind this simplicity, though, is a large cloud-based network, which extracts unique signatures from product images that companies upload on the platform.
According to Business Development Manager Connie Huang, visual search technology is steadily spreading from catalogue and display image shopping to product recognition and comparison shopping. “We think there are many more ways we can apply this technology to various industries that can benefit from the instant information provision,” she said. “On the consumer end, the convenience of using smartphones to identify, learn, and interact in both online and offline methods can really improve the consumer e-commerce experience tremendously. We believe the potential for our products are immense.”
Huang noted that Viscovery’s technology has caught the attention of corporations, particularly in the retail sector. “We have signed up major clients in the consumer health product segment such as Watson and Amway, as well as book retailers and cellphone operators in Asia,” she said. “With the vast potential in the consumer segment for visual search tools, Viscovery is also positioning to disrupt this segment and revolutionise consumer behaviours.”
In addition, Huang revealed that by entering Echelon 2014, Viscovery hopes to meet several investors and potential partners to scale their products in Asia and beyond. “It is a great event to bring startups from Asia to one location to exchange thoughts and ideas,” she added. “At Viscovery, we have only just started our journey to bring these incredible technologies to the world. Echelon is one of the key events that gives a startup like us the opportunity to showcase our technology and desire to make a difference.”
Echelon 2014 is a two-day Startup, Technology and Business event where Asia’s most innovative startups, early-stage investors, tech industry leaders and tech media gather to celebrate and build Asia’s growing tech industry, as well as make valuable relationships.