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Wine app Vivino uses Abbyy OCR technology to decipher wine lists

Wine reviews and comparison app, Vivino, has partnered with Abbyy to utilise the vendor's optical character recognition (OCR) technology in its mobile application.

Vivino has 13 million users across the world, who use the eCommerce platform to scan wine labels and learn more about the bottle they are choosing. The four-year-old company has recently introduced the option to take a photo of wine lists, then using character recognition technology, Vivno presents users with additional information overlaid onto the image.

"It helps customers with a real pain-point in a restaurant, because making a choice about wine surrounded by friends, business colleagues, or even a date, is really nerve wracking," said Torben Mottes, VP of product management at Vivino. "But using our app you can now take a picture of the wine list, and after a couple of seconds to process the image, the information results are overlaid on the image."

Vivino launched the technology in October and it hopes to overlay more information such as food pairings in the near future.

"It's not as common as scanning a bottle in a store, but we hope to make it more and more visible to customers," he told Essential eCommerce. "We're pretty happy with the results from Abbyy, especially in restaurants with low lighting, we looked at a bunch of different solutions, but the fact it worked so well in low lighting was key."

Vivino is a community platform which helps customers choose wine which matches their tastes. Mottes said that while critics try to rate as many wine as possible, they only manage to sip about 25% of the millions of wines available across the globe.

But using crowdsourcing technology, Vivino now has over six million different wines on its system and when a customer scans a bottle of wine in a shop – using Vuforia, a different technology from Abbyy's character recognition – the label matches to a fingerprint of the label in the app's database. "If it's something we haven't seen before we'll add it to the system, that's how we add to the database so quickly. And mobile phone and camera capabilities have made it easy for us to crowdsource the data gathering."

Once users have found the wine they are scanning, Vivino offers them the opportunity to purchase online from wine merchants.

Mottes explained: "People can see where the wine is available and if they are in a restaurant and after scanning the wine list, if they are enjoying the bottle, they can learn where to buy it from."

Vivino, which was founded by two Danes and after the first couple of years moved to San Francisco, now works with 11,000 merchants and the business model is a pay-per-click arrangement with its retailers. But Mottes said the company has just secured a second round of funding of $25 million, which will help it continue to develop the revenue side of the business.

"The first thing was to help the consumer understand wine."