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Not sure you’ve made it to the right building on a crowded college campus? Think you might like to buy a car like one you see across the street but don’t know what kind it is? Why not use your phone-not to make a call, but to take a picture and use it to search for the desired information? Technology developed at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory will, once it’s loaded on your phone, send the image to a database that compares it to other pictures and then present you with a list of matches, together with details such as the address and name of the building or the make, model, and price of the car. Called iDeixis, it works together with a server that crawls the Web for pictures, identifies shapes, colors, and other major details, and stores them in a compact format in a dedicated database. The researchers hope the service will be available in your phone in a few years.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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