Tesco’s R&D team has been busy lately; after introducing a store finder app last month, Tesco has now launched a visual search app for wine discovery.

The Wine Finder app (iTunes link) allows users to take a picture of a bottle of wine and find related results from Tesco’s range, and see price and other information about the bottle.

The app uses the Cortexica Visual Search technology, which recognises features from a wine label and compares them to the database, and returns matching data. You can read more about the technology here on Nick Lansley’s blog.

To use the visual search part of the app, simply line up the wine label between the lines and take a photo:

When you are happy with the quality of the photo, then press use, and the app will search for matches, and return price and product details, as well as an option to rate and share the wine, or order a case: 

As well as visual search, there are other ways to search for wine, such as the Discover tool, which is similar to UrbanSpoon:

It’s pretty useful, and helps users to decide on a wine that matches the meal they are planning, and fits in the price range. For a completely random selection, users can simply shake the phone, or else select and lock a couple of the options and shake for results.

Once you have settled on a bottle of wine, whether through visual search or the discovery tool, then you can shop directly through the Tesco wine store.

This isn’t so easy, as you are directed to the desktop version of the site, complete with registration process. Also, there is a 12 bottle minimum, bit this information isn’t easy to see on a mobile, so I spent a while trying to work out why I couldn’t proceed to the checkout.

Conclusion

I love the idea behind the app, and I can see a lot of uses for it; but I think there are a few flaws so far. The purchase process is tricky to complete on an iPhone, so providing alternatives would be a good idea.

For example, users could save wines they have searched for on a wishlist for when they are next in store or want to order from a desktop computer. Also, users who prefer not to order online could be directed to the nearest Tesco store that stocks the bottle they selected. One click purchase would also make it easier to buy online for registered Tesco shoppers.

These issues aside though, it is a fun app, and the visual search technology could easily be applied to plenty of other products types.