Erick Schonfeld in “TechCrunch” writes about the note-keeping program Evernote that has launched a private beta version for searching text in images — such as from camera phones — in Evernote’s client for computers, on a Web version and a Windows Mobile phone.
I have Evernote (not the beta version, though) and it’s especially useful with my Tablet PC for taking notes and storing them in one continuous file that’s easy to search. You can also highlight information from Web pages and insert it into Evernote.
The beta version greatly expands the functionality for searching within images as well as being able to access the information in almost any situation, whether you’re looking at the notes stored on your desktop or laptop computer, using another computer to search your notes on the Web or searching your notes from a cellular phone.
Evernote has a video in QuickTime as well as in YouTube (see below) that does a good job of highlighting many of the functions.
For example, the video demonstrates searching for key words in a label on a bottle of sake (see below).
The video also shows searching for key words on a photo of a Virgin America ticket to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show as well as the word “Venetian” (i.e., Venetian Hotel in Vegas) that’s handwritten on a Post-it note (see below).
Expanding the usefulness of camera phones
Evernote opens all sorts of opportunities for using a camera phone to snap photos of, for example, business cards, train and plane tickets, receipts, signs, etc., storing the information and searching it on computers and phones. Notes can be geo-tagged, if the cellular phone supports this capability.
By default all of your notes on the Web are private. But it’s possible to share your notes.
Schonfeld quotes Phil Libin, the CEO of Evernote, saying, “The main idea of Evernote is to create an external brain.”
If Evernote’s capabilities to search text in images really works as well and as reliably as in its video, the software certainly will be extremely useful. I’ve certainly written in this weblog about the value of taking camera phone photos of information you want to remember.
Schonfeld writes, “It is also a new behavior that won’t come naturally to many people. People might look at you strangely if you insist on taking a picture of every single person in a meeting with your camera phone and their business cards.
“But I’ve seen people do stranger things in meetings. I could see Evernote being used incidentally at first and then the habit growing over time.”
How many times have you forgotten a person’s name? It would be interesting if taking a photo of a person along with his/her business card would become commonplace. Evernote also is working on the ability to search images based on their type and on facial expressions, such as sad or happy.
Developing mobile phone clients
In addition to its Windows and Windows Mobile clients, Evernote is developing software for the Mac and cellular phones using Java and Google/Open Handset Alliance Android platform and the Apple iPhone, the article notes. The Evernote video uses an Android emulator on a Mac to demonstrate searching for “auto” and “collision” on a Post-it note with information about an automobile body shop (see left).
I saw a version of this Android phone during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The software worked, although neither the handset nor the applications had much of a “wow” factor. To be fair, they were early versions used to demonstrate hardware and software.