Wine Talk

Snooth User: Brad Borneaux

Google's Goggles - Visual Search App to query Wine Labels?

Posted by Brad Borneaux, Apr 8, 2010.

My memory was just jogged in a seperate thread about the advancement of camera's in cell phones, and an app I discovered from Google last year which is in its infancy:

Google's Goggles: application that uses a photograph taken from a camera-phone to perform a query. 

Watch this video for an introduction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhgf...

They make specific reference on the site that it would be useful in identifying wine by their labels: 

Demonstrating a query against a Wine Bottle: http://www.google.com/mobile/goggle...

What does the Snooth crowd make of this?  The application is not yet available for the iPhone, and only for Android phones.  I recall reading a Wine Spectator article on the need for someone to develop a "Killer Wine App" to aid in selling Wine:

Article: http://www.winespectator.com/webfea...

I can see some huge applications of this technology and would consider it to be the next step in developing the Killer Wine App spoken of in that article:

  • For a novice wine shopper: Where in-store ratings may not aid what can seem like a 'shot in the dark' experience.  Often novice buyers will of course depend on labelling as it exists, referencing awards (as meaningless as they might possible be, will influence the wine layman).  Perhaps the stores will list Parker or Wine Spectator point ratings that will also influence their purchase.  Not all wines will have point ratings in stores, leaving the consumer to first their knowledge, the Wine Label, and possibly whatever other criteria the Winery has included; Tasting Notes, etc.  The usefulness of this will be in limiting the query to a specific database which has mandatory data (i.e: cellartracker, snooth, etc).  Simply forwarding the user results one might find from a regular Google query... could be information overload.  Thus... Snooth or Cellartracker, Cork'd... etc... would need to take this technology and run with it on their own. 
  • Social Media: The ability to easily blog tasting notes is what I'm thinking about here.  Snap a photo of the label, the text/pictures from the label are parsed from the label and those details can be immediately used to submit say, a cellartracker, snooth, twitter, facebook review of the wine.  You simply enter your notes following the photo being taken, submit... and the rest is done.

Thoughts?

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Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 8, 2010.

Good segue from the Calgary wine fair!

Let's see what Mark and Philip have to say...

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 8, 2010.

The simplicity of searching using a quick camera phone capture is the key ingrediant here, but also crucial is tying it to a specific dataset.  Google web results will not suffice... too broad. 

Sure I can call a # and get info on the wine, if there were such a hotline, but boy that sounds awfully exhausting.  No one wants to use their phone for calling anyone these days. Funny isn't it?

Sure Wine Spectator has a mobile version of their site to access remotely on your phone, but that isn't simple enough to sell.

A camera married to a cell phone, providing results from select data sources (WS, Parker, Snooth), all from a cheap iPhone app geared towards providing assistance when purchasing a wine.  That is convergeance done well ... and is accessible to the masses. Who wants to type in wine label details into your smart phone at the store?  Not me.  Just have to take a picture using 1 button?  Now we're talking.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 8, 2010.

Yeah, it takes too much time and is too tedious to type in all those details on today's cellphones. My prediction is that the most intense texters, those in their teens and 20s right now, will suffer in later life from posture, bone and joint issues that will be described at the time as something like ECHS (early cellphoner hunch syndrome)... ;-)

So how much work on the label recognition software do you think will be needed?

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 8, 2010.

The technology is there, I am convinced.  There are other companies (besides Google) out there selling the use of their recognition technology to developers:

Idee Inc. out of Canada for instance: http://ideeinc.com/technology/tineye_api

Developing the front-end app the user sees on their iPhone would be the easiest of the challenges IMO.  For it to be successful:

- A database of wine ratings and useful information from the get-go.  So unless a Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Snooth, or the like... funds this, who wants to rely on bad information?

- A database of wine labels!  The logistics behind gathering this kind of data is the staggering part.  Lots of leg work.  Being that things are digital these days, these could of course be retrieved from the Wineries upon creation.  However, that adds yet another step to their processes, which might be too much to ask. Distributors perhaps?  Either way... for it to be effective for the masses, recent vintages found in stores need to be indexed.  At this point, I'm not sure existing wine label databases would be sufficient, not knowing the quality of their scanned images.

Next steps I see would be.... Develop the app (front and backend), secure rights to an existing wine ratings database, and prove the technology using a limited database of wine labels.  Provided that works... then invest the time/money in gathering appropriate quality wine labels... whether from the wineries or distributors perhaps?

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 8, 2010.

To make something dead simple, and the ultimate "lazy" solution for everyone... someone's going to have to do a lot of work.

Shazam for the iPhone is such an application.  Anyone could normally record lyrics they here from a song at a cafe, and type a few lines in on their smart-phone, hoping to find a lyric site that might reference the artist & title.  But that's not lazy enough.  Shazam... now that's dead simple, and sells.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 9, 2010.

Maybe someone oughta pitch Google on a buyout of CellarTracker combined with an upgrade to this capability you describe?

Or, perhaps.... calling Philip!?!

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 9, 2010.

hey guys - i have something to add to this - but just got off a long flight and need sleep, will comment tomorrow...

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 9, 2010.

Looks like online wine retailer - Tesco, released this app on iPhone in December, 2009:

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tesco-wine-finder/id345099862?mt=8&rel=external

Not sure what the app is like, since I don't have an iPhone.  The key here is a reliable ratings database, so I'm not sure how respectable their data is, versus say Snooth or beyond.  A bit dis-heartening to know it's already created, but perhaps it's not as 'open' as I would hope.  Since they are an online retailer of wine, I'd imagine it is focused as selling their products as a focus, as opposed to say integration with twitter/facebook/etc.

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 9, 2010.

Hmmm... looks like it does have integration with twitter/facebook/etc:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaeRDU2WJyE&feature=related

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 9, 2010.

Hmmm... looks like Tesco bought this out from the original developer Cortexica to hawk their online wines, who originally released it in September 2009.

dmcker - give it a try and see what you think.  Has Tesco spoiled what was the original product (wine finding/sharing/rating app), I wonder? 

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 9, 2010.

It looks like maybe Tesco purchased a customized version of this, to provide to customers for free (I'd imagine it's locked down to only integrate with them as a retailer??). 

WINEfindr - is the original Cortexica app itself, which costs $ money to use.  Looks pretty nifty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaeRDU2WJyE&feature=related

 

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 9, 2010.

Sorry for the multiple replies!  Funny though... Cortexica just re-launched this litterally 2 days ago, April 7... available on the App store now.  Invented already - story of my life!  I'd be a millionaire, if only smarter faster people didn't come up with these ideas years before me. :(

The official WINEfindr website, with all the details:

http://www.cortexica.com/winefindr/index.html

philip - curious to hear your thoughts.  Perhaps some Snooth integration so you can upload ratings to Snooth as an option (versus Facebook/Twitter/etc).  :)

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Reply by chadrich, Apr 9, 2010.

Okay, am I the only one who feels like a dinosaur because I'm still using a Blackberry?!?!

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 9, 2010.

Hey guys - sorry for the slow response, yes, thats built by Cortexica. I cant tip my hat yet, but there are a number of options and technologies available to do this, and you need several components:

 

- Visual search technology - Cortexica is one, there are 5-6 others

- Wine data - pretty obvious who has this

- High Quality label shots - as above, but there are some twists

 

Ultimately, I'm going to remain silent on this one, as we are investigating some options in this space.

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Reply by Brad Borneaux, Apr 9, 2010.

chadrich - Yeah, I'm a BB user myself... no camera though, an old school one.  I feel like I am behind the times for sure!

philip - that's really cool, thanks for chiming in. Keep us in the loop when anything comes up that isn't on a need to know basis!  Best of luck!

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 9, 2010.

So what proportion of wine bottles are labeled with barcodes these days?

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Reply by zufrieden, Apr 9, 2010.

Not a few.  Most retailers seem to fall into apoplexy if a bar code is either (a) missing or (b) incorrectly entered onto the inventory.  If bar code (or some other facsimile unique identifier) is used, you are already on the path toward your stated objective.

As to the actual proportion of wines using such codes, I could not discover anything in a cursory exploration.  However, as a food product I can't see wine that's produced in any quantity being bar code naked...

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 10, 2010.

DM - my best guess is that 75%+ of the top 20,000 wines (by distribution) have barcodes, but very few of the real niche long tail brands have them.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 10, 2010.

So scanning barcodes will be a useful feature, but not a universal easy way out. Still will need that label DB...

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Reply by Philip James, Apr 10, 2010.

Cortexica just released another app, this time under their own name - its called WineFindr, and is, I'm pleased to say, powered by Snooth. Its just for the UK at the moment.

We've invested a lot of money building the largest DB of high quality wine labels (425,000 label images when i last checked), some of this is on the site, a lot of it has been done behind the scenes for exactly such a use.

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