Practical technology today for tommorow


Over the last few days I have continually spoken with excitement to people about the photo recognition technology offerred by Amazon through their iPhone app.

The applications of this technology are diverse and you can see it improving the performance of so many activities that are currently performed through very manual intensive processes, not the least trying to read small bar codes or serial numbers and then type it into internet web browsers or provide it to hopefully somewhat knowledgeable sales assistants in stores.

So, with my excitement I provide them with my short but entirely true personal experience of using the simple but practical technology provided by the Amazon app.

Our amplifier remote had for quite a while been the bane of our existence.  A battery panel that required sticky tape to ensure it did not fall off and buttons that required an anvil of around 20kg pressure to change the volume or the component required.  Almost every day one of us was either sticking the damn thing together or smacking the back of the remote with our other hand (a sure fire way to reduce the life of the remote but alas the only option available to us to make the remote work.

One day we were done with this remote and we decided to replace it.  We searched the internet for the same make and model.  Scouring the google results for the model and make number, the serial number or maybe some resemblance of the remote we had.  We were aware of the multi-appliance remotes but given the age of our amplifier were never sure it would address our “button pressing, battery panel pain”.

Without realising it, I had previously downloaded the Amazon app for the iPhone but had never really looked at it.  I decided I would try one final search for my remote on the Amazon store on the app.  Alas, it did not return a positive result.  However, it was at this point that I noticed an option called “Amazon Remembers”.  Sounded interesting but little did I realise just how interesting.

So, I clicked the button and read something about taking a photo of an item.  I gave it a whirl and watched as it took the photo and then performed some form of processing.  I waited, perhaps for around 30 seconds (maybe a minute) and then to my amazement Amazon return options to replace this remote.  It advised me of a generic remote and gave me the price and the specifications.

Although I did not actually purchase the remote, primarily for reasons of price and convienience, I was able to take my phone to a store here in Melbourne and purchase the exact same remote for a great price.

It was with great relief that we solved our sticky tape, button pressing problem and we now have a remote that provides with a long term solution.

This type of technology is a value-adding innovation that I hope to see implemented across many more applications and consumer concepts in the months and years to come.


Scott North has extensive experience in enterprise risk management, internal audit, operational risk and compliance, risk strategy, scenario planning, technology risk, technology business analysis, systems design, financial accounting, and management accounting. Scott is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Chartered Accountants with a Masters Degree from the University of Melbourne in Business and Information Technology. Scott is also a Fellow of the University of Melbourne.