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Announcing RedLaser 2.5

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About 72 hours ago, the RedLaser 2.5 update was published to the App Store.  It was a soft-launch with our new partner, TheFind, which is the fastest growing search engine for shopping in the US with over 400 million products in its search index.  In the 2.5 release we also improved our scanning speed (6% faster), and made a handful of interface improvements.

Behind the scenes, we were racing to get the technology ready for Black Friday, and in our rush, we made a mistake.  In the US (and initially in the UK, too), we completely replaced Google Product Search with TheFind. We were overconfident in the volume of search results that would be immediately available from TheFind alone.  Over the last 72 hours, based on your feedback, we and TheFind realized that this wasn’t the right decision for RedLaser users.  In response, effective immediately, as of this posting, we have re-enabled Google Product Search results and are now providing them along with TheFind’s Product Search results. This means that in almost every case, we will have substantially better search results in version 2.5 than in the last version, 2.2.

RedLaser 2.2 vs 2.5

The only case where RedLaser will now display fewer results is for some products on Amazon.com.  The reason is that Amazon has a policy that prohibits querying their API from mobile applications unless they give explicit written permission.  We asked for permission a few months ago, and were told “No.”  We then tried a number of work-arounds and unfortunately, Amazon asked us to remove them as well.  Despite the limitation, in some cases Google and TheFind may be able to provide Amazon results and will include them when possible.

Meanwhile, we knew it would be extremely frustrating to users if we removed Amazon with nothing in its place.  So we began working on a partnership with TheFind.  TheFind, we soon found out, has an incredible product search engine that is comparable to Google.  They include products from over 500,000 stores and online sellers, a number that continues to grow.  By featuring results from TheFind, we can now show local results for many products, a request of many RedLaser users.  They also have coupons, reviews, local addresses, and comprehensive store information, which we can’t wait to start tapping into.  Previously, with Google as our primary search provider, we were limited in how we could improve RedLaser.  Occipital is first and foremost a mobile computer vision company.  (That means we’re rocket scientists when it comes to image processing, but not when it comes to crawling the Internet for products.) Despite a lot of great ideas, we didn’t have the resources to focus on both computer vision and better results. With TheFind, we now have a partner committed to helping Occipital improve mobile product search relevance, the accuracy of barcode data, as well as providing information never before available in RedLaser, starting with local results (They’re rocket scientists when it comes to shopping.)

We’re confident that our partnership with TheFind is going to be a great one ― one that is focused on creating the best user experience possible and eventually paving the way for a new kind of shopping. Occipital will continue to build the best vision-based technology to power RedLaser’s barcode scanner (and barcode scanning is just the tip of the iceberg), while TheFind will innovate new ways to provide you great shopping search results.  We stumbled a little with our rushed launch, but we’re back on track, and we hope that RedLaser will always be your trusted companion for mobile product search.

Keep the feedback coming.  We’re listening and improving.

Thank you for using RedLaser.

Additional Release Notes:

  • TheFind and Google Product search are now enabled for the US and UK.  Google Product Search also supports searching for results in Euros, so RedLaser can be used today with Google Product Search in Europe.  In other vicinities, we currently cannot surface listings.  Let us know if you have data sources we should look into, and if you have one that can already be searched via barcode, check out RedLaser custom apps.
  • Custom Apps improved:  As in 2.2, you can create a RedLaser custom app that searches just about any website with barcode, and in 2.5, we’ve improved the launch screen to make it seamless, and added a built-in browser so you don’t have to redirect back to Mobile Safari after you’ve scanned in your custom app ( use “noexit=YES” ).  We’ll keep improving Custom Apps so that RedLaser is even more useful in areas where our coverage is poor.

Written by jeff

November 28th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

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