Slyce, a startup company based in Toronto, develops technology similar to Amazon Flow, which allows users to take a picture of an object, search for it on Amazon, and then buy it. The technology that Slyce is developing is different in that it is being built to work with a wide variety of retail companies that have partnered with Slyce.
To put it simply, Slyce is not developing a standalone application so much as it is developing a platform. While a product like Amazon Flow is built to only be used with Amazon, Slyce is working to partner with various retailers to build similar apps on the Slyce platform. Currently, Slyce is partnered with retailers like Target, Toys “R” Us, Best Buy, Staples, and Ace Hardware. By partnering with Slyce, these retailers can integrate Slyce’s technology with their existing mobile apps, allowing users to shop by taking pictures with their smartphones. As some have explained it, Slyce is looking to build Amazon Flow for the rest of retail.
Another key detail that sets Slyce apart from Amazon’s offering is that Amazon Flow is built to work with products in their original packaging. This is something of a limitation for Flow, but it does allow Amazon to capitalize on the “showroom effect”, where users go to a physical store to see a product in person, but want to use the price and information research abilities of Amazon. Slyce, on the other hand, is building its technology to excel at image recognition in any setting. Flow uses logo, text, and packaging recognition to search for and recognize objects. Slyce instead builds models of attributes of each product, so they can be recognized in any setting. For example, Slyce first tries to determine what type of product an object is: clothing, toy, electronics, etc. Once it has determined this, like if Slyce has recognized that it is looking at a shirt, it looks at specific details of the object: color, size, pattern, even down to the number of buttons on the shirt and the spacing between those buttons. This allows Slyce to find the exact object the user is searching for, and direct that user to that object’s listing on the retailer’s site.
Slyce is shaping up to be a very versatile and useful product. It will definitely be interesting to see how it progresses in the future, as it already has the support of numerous retailers, and the financial support of a number of private investors. Slyce and its visual search and recognition technology will definitely be something to keep an eye on.