Is Mobile Capture the Next Killer App?

By Joe Budelli posted 08-04-2010 12:04


The tech world is always looking for the next killer app that becomes so necessary that it can justify the purchase of a new consumer electronic device, be it a tablet or the latest mobile handset device.  Over the years there have been many killer applications, like the VisiCalc spreadsheet program which drove thousands of finance analysts to break down and buy their first Apple II or the infamous Space Invaders application which was the key reason the Atari 2600 platform took off.  You can even call the advent of the Internet, the ultimate killer app.

So what’s the new killer app for the camera phones which will make it imperative for all mobile phones to become camera phones? My bet is on mobile capture.

Why?  With a killer app based on OCR, your camera phone wouldn’t only be for taking pictures of your kids on summer vacation to be sent back to grandma.  Rather, with OCR that camera phone could recognize bar codes and do an instant price comparison when you are discount shopping, or would capture and translate menus at those pricey restaurants at your next business trip. It’s like having the power of a scanner right in your pocket. Acting as an extension for scanners, photocopiers and fax machines, the mobile camera phones can become an important office equipment device to allow you to complete tasks like converting photos of business cards into text that is automatically saved directly to address books and CRM systems.

Most of the more than 200,000 apps now available for the iPhone are geared for consumer use, but the number of business apps are increasing and many take advantage of OCR.  In fact, half of the top 15 applications either use or could benefit from the addition of OCR capabilities.

By combining optical character recognition with today’s sophisticated mobile device you can capture actual data from images and documents no matter where you are.  Like scanning your travel receipts on your current business trip to Asia, having the information translated into English – and maybe even doing the Yuan to dollar conversion, which you send back to the office so that your trip expense check is already deposited by the time you are walking through customs upon your return. For me, that would be a God send.  There are so many applications that can be written that take advantage of mobile capture, but one is still out there that is going to be the one that changes the use of camera phones forever.

As techniques for improved data capture accuracy are advanced and OCR is integrated into more and more mobile devices, the market for mobile capture applications is bound to grow exponentially and change the way mobile phones are used.

Back to my question on the next killer app for camera phones, I’m thinking that it will be based on mobile capture and that the app will be so basic that we will say “why didn’t anyone think of this before?”  I would love to hear from you on what would be your ideal mobile capture application and perhaps your idea can become the impetus for the killer app for camera phones. Plus be sure to check back to hear about several mobile capture enterprise applications that are coming on the scene. Never know, they could be a killer app for the mobile enterprise market.

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