Amazon iPhone App’s “Amazon Remembers” Feature Works

Amazon iPhone App’s “Amazon Remembers” Feature Works

After installing Amazon’s new iPhone app, the first thing I tried was using the “Amazon Remembers” feature. The feature is supposed to allow users to snap pictures of stuff they need to remember – kind of like an ad-hoc scrap book or shopping list, and then have amazon keep the pics, to look through later. Additionally, Amazon performs some object recognition, and attempts to find the product in it’s catalog.

I took a picture of a tube of Zicam on my desk at work, and, lo and behold, 10 mintutes later Amazon emailed me a link to the Zicam product page – both as an iPhone link, and as a normal browser link. The direct link to the product page, coupled with Amazon 1-click buying proved to be the perfect combo – I hit “Buy it with 1-Click”, and just like that, a box of Zicam tubes is being shipped to me tomorrow. Success!

To shed some more light on how Amazon Remembers works – According to the blurb in the “What happens to my photos” screen in the iPhone App –

When you take a photo using Amazon remembers, it is saved for you in the following places:

  • this application [sic]
  • your homepage [sic]
  • Your Lists (link available at the top right of any page on the site)

We also use a community of real people to research your photo and try to match it to a similar product on

If we find a product similar to your photos within a day or two, the results will be associated with your photo. A numbered red circle will appear on the Remembers tab to let you know that a similar product is ready for you to view.

In addition, we’ll notify you by sending you an e-mail to the address on file for your account. If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, you may turn off Amazon Remembers e-mail notification from Your Account in this application.

Amazon is apparently using a panel of real people to manually comb through the photos and assign product pages to them. Given how low-contrast my Zicam photo was, I’m not surprised that a real person had to take a look at the photo to figure out what it was. Perhaps this would be (or is.. no confirmation on that yet…) a great application of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, which uses a form of crowdsourcing to grind through tasks only a human brain can handle. Amazon calls these tasks HITs – Human Intelligence Tasks.

Now if the Zicam would only make this cold go away…