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Shazam Visual Recognition Launches with Disney ‘Tomorrowland,’ Other Media Partners

Shazam Entertainment’s app has listened — and now it can see.

The app from the U.K.-based company, which uses audio to identify songs and TV shows, has added the ability to recognize images from participating partners. The new visual-recognition feature uses a mobile device’s camera to scan static images, including posters, print media and packaged goods, and then present interactive content, special offers and other info to users.

The first “Shazamable” print ad was for Disney’s “Tomorrowland,” which launched May 22 for the movie’s opening last weekend. Users who tag the poster using Shazam are brought into a separate “Tomorrowland” virtual space with info on the pic. Disney Music Group also will be part of the visual Shazam rollout with select content from its portfolio of artists.

Other launch partners for Shazam’s visual-recognition include Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated; Condé Nast Publications’ Self’ HarperCollins’ Hearst’s Esquire’ and Dow Jones & Co.’s WSJ Magazine. In addition, retailer Merchbar is using the Shazam feature for products from Meghan Trainor and Nick Jonas.

In addition, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is planning to use the Shazam visual-recognition feature to promote its June 24 “Batman: Arkham Knight” videogame launch in Australia.

“This is part of Shazam’s goal to enable people to engage with the world around them,” said Peter Szabo, senior VP head of music and U.S. ad sales. The company’s partners can now make any of their print ads or actual physical products more engaging for consumers, he said.

To use the feature, Shazam users tap the new camera icon and must give the app permission to access the device’s camera. They then point the camera at an image that’s Shazam-enabled or on a QR code, and the app (theoretically) pulls up related content. The feature was developed in conjunction with digital-watermarking technology firm Digimarc.

Shazam has more than 100 million active monthly users worldwide, and the key part of the visual-recognition launch “is educating our own users,” Szabo said. The tool is better than standard QR codes, he said, because consumers are familiar with the Shazam app and use it several times a day.

In January London-based Shazam raised $30 million from unidentified investors, giving it a valuation of more than $1 billion, according to the company. Previous investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Institutional Venture Partners, DN Capital and telecom tycoon Carlos Slim.

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