- Amazon quietly added a feature to the iOS version of its app called Part Finder that lets users search for specific fasteners — nuts, bolts and washers — they need to make repairs, according to TechCrunch. The feature lets users point their smartphone at the fastener they need, the camera scans it and measures it, and then the user is directed to matching items in Amazon's product catalog, where they can purchase them.
- To use Part Finder, users first tap the icon to launch the feature, then place the fastener on a white surface next to a penny for size reference. After tilting the phone to measure the part and ensuring it's in focus, the app scans the item and delivers product results.
- The Part Finder, which uses computer vision technology, is capable of identifying more than 100 types of fasteners. The feature is currently only available on iOS, and its future availability on Android is unclear.
Part Finder is the latest component of Amazon's effort to expand the visual search capabilities of its mobile app — or at least the iOS version — and connect users to products they need on the company's e-commerce platform with nothing more than a smartphone. The app also has a "package x-ray" feature that lets customers see what's inside an Amazon delivery box without opening it, and a "SmileCode" scanner that's the company's version of a QR code reader. SmileCodes can link print ads to an Amazon product page or open up mobile content after a person scans an Amazon box. The company recently also added a feature called AR View that lets customers use their smartphone camera to see how products might look or fit in their homes before making a purchase.
Amazon's addition of Part Finder is another sign that tech companies in general are looking for more ways to boost their everyday usability by getting into home repair services. Amazon in 2015 launched Amazon Home Services to provide customers with a list of vetted and insured professionals to handle tasks like installing a TV or managing home repairs or similar tasks. Similarly, Facebook in May partnered with Handy, HomeAdvisor and Porch to add recommendations on home services professionals to its Marketplace section for person-to-person e-commerce. Google in November added a feature to its voice-enabled Assistant that let users search for local servicepeople like plumbers and electricians.