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App shuttles info between devices

Swapping information between your computer and smart phone may get a whole lot easier with an app that lets you do just that with your phone's camera. 

The app, called Deep Shot, was designed by Tsung-Hsiang Chang, a graduate student in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, while he working as a summer intern at Google with research scientist Yang Li

The app eliminates the redundancy of looking up an address of a restaurant using Google Maps on your computer, for example, and then retyping it on your smart phone as you drive to your lunch date. Instead, just take a picture of the map on your computer screen with your phone's camera and the phone automatically opens up its mapping application tuned to the corresponding data and off you go.

Now, let's say the lunch was great and you want to write a review on Yelp. You open up the website on your phone but realize that typing the review on the tiny keyboard is tedious. So, point the phone camera at your computer. The phone recognizes the target computer screen and opens the Yelp webpage there so you can type the review with your computer keyboard.

The technology exploits the fact that many computer applications use a standard format called uniform resource identifier, or URI. For example, on Google Maps, the URI is the string of code that contains information on your starting and end points and the size of the map on the window.

Deep Shot, which must be installed all the devices you want talking to each other, uses vision algorithms to identify what's on the screen. The software then extracts and transmits the corresponding URI to the phone. What's more, since URI is standard, it can transfer data from one mapping application on a computer to a different mapping application on a phone.

Since Chang developed the application while at Google, the company owns the rights to it. Google has yet to make the system publicly available. When it does, Chang will be the first to install it, according to an MIT news release. "It just makes everything so much easier," he said.

To see the app in action, check out the video above.

John Roach is a contributing writer for Connect with the Cosmic Log community by hitting the "like" button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page or following's science editor, Alan Boyle, on Twitter (@b0yle).