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Google’s purchase last month of image recognition startup Moodstocks alerted the world to the potential of this technology.One company already operating in that space is Slyce, a mobile image technology that recognizes products such as footwear in the real world, according to CEO Ted Mann. It’s being used inside the apps of at least 20 retailers, among them Neiman Marcus, Shoe Carnival, Nordstrom, Shoes.com and JCPenney.

In the search bar of a company’s app, a camera icon appears, allowing users to launch Slyce’s universal scanner. Once the camera snaps a picture, the app utilizes 3-D optic recognition and shows either an exact match or a shoe with similar attributes.“If a retailer carries a wide variety of brands, we’re trying to get as exact a match as possible,” said Mann. “We want to get that precise pair of New Balance sneakers, or the most visually similar, but still that same brand.”

Another area Slyce is working on involves “using chat-box messaging as a medium for delivering visual search results,” according to Mann. “You submit a picture of something [through a messenger program] and get back an exact match to that product.” Right now, Facebook is the prime messenger platform marketers have their eyes on, given it has more than 1 billion users.