GetFugu Brings Eyes and Ears to Mobile Search

Today I had the chance to catch up with GetFugu, a mobile tool applying some of the voice and visual search technologies we’ve examined here over the past few months.

The app, currently in beta for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android, allows users to speak or take pictures of search inputs (video demos here). But unlike the broader search of Google voice and visual (Goggles) search, this is built mostly around brands.

This allows the company to have a more focused user experience, and one that taps into greater commercial intent. It also differs from general search in that it directly feeds users the brand information in its database, instead of landing them on a “10 blue links” results page.

According to VP and cofounder Rich Jenkins, this brand information can range from the company’s corporate Web site to a more varied and dedicated bundle of promotions, video, or localized content. The latter payload is usually reserved for paying advertisers — the basis of its business model.

The company also has an eye on the local space. In addition to reaching brand advertisers, it sees the mobile device’s location capabilities as a natural fit for SMB advertisers. This could include direct sales resources (both internal and via partners) to tackle this massive but elusive segment.

Next steps also include streamlining the clock speed of voice and visual search results, and to integrate a UGC feature for users to add brand logos it doesn’t have. It will also continue to build the app for every major smartphone platform (including the new Windows Phone 7) and J2me.

The proof will be in the usability but the company claims 95 percent accuracy matching photographed logos to correct brands. This could appeal to advertisers that want to reach users when they effectively raise their hand with explicit brand interest. Usage over time is likewise hoped to arm GetFugu with analytics to show advertisers both reach and one-on-one engagement.

But the real question is whether there is a “use case” out there for people to want to raise their hand for brand information. There will have to be a value exchange or motivation to search for a brand. In other words, actionable and/or local offers.

That’s exactly where the company is headed, says Jenkins. Stay tuned for the full product release across mobile platforms over the the next couple of months.

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