Forget their proposed drone delivery system; Amazon just solved one of the biggest problems for engineers, designers, DIY’ers, or anyone handy enough to use a screwdriver: identifying a screw. Don’t you just hate when you find one of those buggers under your sofa or behind the fridge and have no idea where it came from or where it goes? *looks under arm* Or maybe you do know what the screw is for but need more of the same kind.
Instead of taking the screw to a hardware store, you can make use of Part Finder – a feature on Amazon’s iOS app which helps you figure out what the part is, what it’s for, and where to get more of it. Developed using technology they acquired from Partpic (a startup company Amazon acquired back in 2016), Part Finder uses your mobile device’s camera to match about 100 types of screws, nuts, and bolts which make up your rickety ol’ furniture.
Getting the feature to work is a bit demanding, as it requires a 1)penny, 2) paper, and 3) a steady hand.
After opening Part Finder, the phone will prompt you to align the part you wish to identify above a penny. This needs to be done on a white surface (which is where the sheet of paper comes in), or else the camera can’t accurately identify and measure the part’s depth and width. It takes a bit of Amazon A.I. magic for it to work but, if all goes well, the app will recognize the part and redirect you to a bunch of sketchy vendors who sell it for a marked-up price.
Amazon silently introduced the feature into their app a few weeks ago, and while it currently works for screws, nuts, bolts, and washers, there are plans to expand it to include other replacement parts… non-human replacement parts, for now. Apple fans get another win this time, as Part Finder only works on iOS devices with no announcement quite yet for plans on an Android port.
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