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VOL. 129 | NO. 142 | Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Target Debuts an Image-Recognition Shopping App

AP

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NEW YORK (AP) – Target is introducing an app that lets users purchase items after scanning magazine ads with their smartphones. It's the latest offering from retailers looking to boost sales with the use of improving image-recognition technology.

Starting this month, the app, called "In a Snap," will recognize images for Target's Room Essentials products in 10 home decor magazines including Architecture and Real Simple. A user can simply scan an image and when it is recognized by the app, the item gets added to a shopping cart for potential purchase.

Apps that scan codes, such as QSR codes and UPC symbols, are fairly common, but an app that consistently recognizes images or objects has proven more difficult. Retailers are anticipating competition from Firefly, a service Amazon is launching this week with the debut of its Fire smartphone. The company claims Firefly can recognize 100 million items. Amazon's current app for iPhones and iPads has a similar service called Flow that scans barcodes, grocery labels, books and DVDs.

Target's app, on the other hand, is limited to recognizing products in ads. It is free to download but still in test mode, and it offers users the ability to send feedback to the Minneapolis retailer.

ComScore vice president of marketing and insight Andrew Lipsman said Firefly is something rival retailers should keep an eye on, but consumer behavior is not likely to change overnight.

"It's easy for technology to wow us, but it only matters as much as it is useful to the consumer," he said. "There are plenty of examples of really cool technology, but if it doesn't become engrained in regular behavior, it is not going to represent a sea change in e-commerce."

Target says it spent a year researching its app and its Rapid Accelerated Development technology team took about six to eight weeks to build the app.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 89 242 14,959
MORTGAGES 111 255 19,585
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 21 43 3,838
BUILDING PERMITS 153 512 35,842
BANKRUPTCIES 61 182 14,216
BUSINESS LICENSES 18 104 5,095
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 76 246 21,679
MARRIAGE LICENSES 16 75 4,632

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