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Walmart taps image recognition for holiday photo cards

Walmart is attracting tech-savvy consumers this holiday season by giving them an option of using image recognition technology when building their annual photo cards.

The average holiday photo card can now feature interactive video when scanned with mobile devices. A constant innovator, Walmart sets itself apart from other retailers that offer holiday photo card capabilities by adding interactivity.
“Imagine adding a video screen to a printed greeting card,” said Ken Haffner, CEO of Holoma, Miami. “As awesome as digital cards are, they can’t be hung from the mantle with care.
“U4D-iT brings traditional printed Holiday greetings to life by linking personalized video to a printed image,” he said. “Our image recognition software is far superior to existing scanning solutions.
“Barcodes and QR codes alter the photo, often obscuring the best details. Who wants a QR code plastered all over their baby’s picture?”
Coming to life
Technology solutions provider Holoma is powering the solution.
The solution allows users to get creative. Consumers can share a video of their family decorating the tree or dancing in tacky Christmas sweaters.
The Web site claims to be the only one of its kind, offering the ability for consumers to make their photos four-dimensional. When a photo and a related video are uploaded to the site, the 4D technology links the two, creating a “4D photo.” When the photo is scanned with the free, integrated mobile application, the video plays.
Users can upload their photos and videos to the above Web site and then can upload those in Walmart stores or online at
The app needed to access the experience is iDD4D.
The idea was executed to create an engaging experience by combining photo and video technology available on mobile devices with a holiday trend that so many families follow each year.
Through this tool, photos are not altered or changed. Holoma is not using QR codes or stickers that could deface photos.
These interactive photos cost $9.96 and can be used at any product offered at Walmart’s Photo Center, such as coffee cups, calendars and photo books.
Holoma worked with HubEngage, a snap-on engine for mobile and Web, that redeploys its commercial image recognition module in this new format. Walmart partnered with Holoma to create the consumer 4D experience.
Leading in mobile
Walmart approaches mobile in many different ways.
For example, Walmart Canada is joining Half Your Plate, a healthy eating campaign sponsored by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, for a social media campaign to move onto produce packaging and into retail locations across Canada.
The campaign, which asks shoppers to fill half their carts with fruits and vegetables, will be promoted inside Walmart stores and on flyers. It is an example of how social media can be leveraged to drive consumer engagement in important health issues such as eating better (see story).
Also, Walmart kicked off its holiday deals a few weeks ago with an expansion of its Savings Catcher feature and a new Search My Store tool that prioritizes key information such as in-store availability and location.
With such a large inventory, the new tool enables personnel and customers to quickly keep track of available items from their mobile phones. By streamlining access to important information that it can take several steps to retailers in other retailers’ apps, Walmart is hoping to answer customer feedback about wanting to be able to shop more self-sufficiently (see story).
Image recognition technology is another way that can help Walmart set itself apart from other major retailers.
“Our solution works on any past, present or future image,” Mr. Haffner said. “Once the image is 4D’ed, it will scan no matter where or how it’s printed, such as on a greeting card, ornament, scrapbook page, framed print or billboard if you are so inclined.
Also the video can be changed or updated anytime the consumer wants without changing the image,” he said. “Our research has indicted a strong desire by even the most tech savvy individuals to retain some connection to important customs, such as exchanging printed holiday cards while using technology to enhance, rather than replace, the tradition.”
Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York