January 18, 2011, 5:22 PM

Toyota drives an advanced mobile app into the palms of shoppers’ hands

The app employs optical character recognition to enable search via a smartphone’s camera.

Lead Photo

Toyota's mobile app enables shoppers to snap a picture of a car's vehicle identification number to receive an array of information on the auto.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. has launched a mobile shopping app that lets users view rich media displays of 16 car and truck models, compare multiple vehicles, share information in social networks, and, with optical character recognition technology, photograph a vehicle’s identification number to store and display a list of its features.

Optical character recognition, or OCR, technology can read letters and numbers in an image and translate the image into computer-readable data, thus enabling searches and other data manipulation.

“Toyota customers are eager to access information on the Toyota brand and its products, as well as have an engaging experience whenever, wherever they are,” says Michael K. Nelson, interactive communications marketing manager for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A “As such, our vision was to create a mobile app to complement both Toyota.com and its mobile counterpart m.Toyota.com.”

The mobile shopping app, developed by Kony Solutions Inc., contains more than 80,000 Toyota images. Vehicle images can be spun 360 degrees. The app can be downloaded for free from the app stores for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smartphones.

The app also lets users save vehicle information to a Favorite file for future reference, compare Toyota models with other vehicles from Toyota or other car makers, view car videos, and share vehicle information via e-mail and links to Facebook and Twitter.

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