Amazon Part Finder users AR to identify nuts, bolts, screws

Online shopping services, especially Amazon's, have become so convenient that, for some, it is their go-to for anything they need to buy. It only works, though, if you actually know what you need to buy. When you don't, like with unidentified bolts, washers, fasteners, etc, you often have to drag yourself to the nearest hardware store. To help buyers, Amazon is rolling out a Part Finder feature on its mobile app that employs augmented reality tricks to keep you from buying from someone else.

Mobile AR platforms now have an ability to measure things in the real world using nothing but your smartphone's camera. Of course, it might not be entirely accurate but it's better than nothing at times. Amazon is utilizing that capability, together with its already existing object recognition features to identify those unidentifiable parts so that you can buy them off Amazon.

That said, it's not as straightforward as you might imagine. It's not a simple case of pointing your smartphone camera at the screw and it will automagically know what kind it is. According to TechCrunch, the app instructs you on where to place the part (on a flat white surface), how to position it, and how to align your smartphone camera. It even requires you to place the object next to a penny.

But even with those instructions, you will still be asked things about the type of part, head style, and drive type. So all the app is really doing is trying to measure the length and size of the part along with identifying it. Not exactly the convenience you may have been looking for.

For some, it might still be better than having to go out of the way to ask in hardware stores. That said, so far it seems to only work on the iOS Amazon app, with no word yet on an Android version.