If you’ve ever been in the middle of a building project, only to find out that you’re missing a nut or bolt, you know how a small misplaced piece can become a massive headache. It inevitably ends with a trip to the hardware store and valuable time wasted fishing through dozens of tiny drawers to find something similar.
Amazon is introducing a solution called Part Finder that leverages computer vision within its existing mobile app to find the replacement, sans hardware store. To try it–on iOS now and Android soon–tap the camera button in the Amazon search bar and place any screw or bolt onto a table next to a penny. Then, as you tilt and angle your phone, Amazon uses computer vision technology to analyze the object and size the part for you.
Part Finder’s superpower is the sheer specificity with which it can do the job. It can tell a SplitRivet from a WingNut and a flat head from a pan head. It can identify over 100 types of fasteners in all, “which represents thousands, if not millions of parts,” according to Amazon. But crucially, Part Finder lists its own conclusions as tappable buttons. That means if Amazon gets something wrong–for instance, suggesting a Phillips head on your screw when you know you need something else–you can just tap that option to keep on shopping.
Given that Amazon’s conventional search results can be a frustrating experience even when you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s encouraging to see the company investing in ideas to help in those moments when you desperately don’t.