CEBIT: Vodafone shows image search for mobile phones

Vodafone has developed a technology that allows image-driven searches via photos taken with a phone's camera

Search isn't just about text anymore. At the Cebit trade show in Germany, Vodafone is demonstrating Otello, a search engine that uses images as input.

Instead of entering a word or phrase users send pictures via MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) from their mobile phones.

The picture can be anything from a historical building to a CD cover, according to Vodafone. Otello then returns information relevant to the picture to the mobile phone, just like a normal search engine.

Vodafone's reasoning behind image search is that it's more convenient to take a picture than to enter search terms with a phone that lacks a normal keyboard.

Starting Monday Vodafone is conducting a trial with German paper Bild. Readers can find out more about specially-marked articles by photographing them with their mobile phone camera and sending the image to Bild.

This gives the reader access to additional multimedia content, such as photos or videos.

The next step for the service remains to be seen. Vodafone won't comment on when Otello will be used in more than trial.

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