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Brief Published: 20 Jan 2016

Control Smart Objects With a Photo


Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US have developed an app that lets users connect to smart appliances by taking a picture of them.

The app, called Snap-To-It, is used to take a photograph of a device – for example, a printer – and then send the smartphone the correct interface to operate it. The phone's owner can then print out a document directly from the app.

Internet-connected devices use different standards to communicate and often require their own apps. Snap-To-It aims to standardise the process of interacting with these smart appliances. "The ability to walk into a space that I haven't been into before and start using equipment that I'm authorised to is really nice," says Anind Dey, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon.

The technology uses computer-vision algorithms to compare the photo taken to existing ones, in order to establish the device on the network the person wants to connect to.

Future functions could include taking a photo of an object to find more information on what it can do, or using a picture to operate many devices simultaneously, according to the researchers behind the app.

Consumers increasingly expect seamless interaction with the world around them and brands should consider ways to facilitate this. For more on the Internet of Things, see The Technology Expo 2015 and Digital Worlds Update: The Consumer of 2030.