Shazam is expanding to visual recognition with a new feature that allows users to scan static images with their phone's camera and gain access to additional content.

Best loved for its audio discovery feature that lets users figure out what song, TV show or radio commercial they are listening to, Shazam is now extending its well-equipped arms to include images. The new feature rolls out with the latest version of the app for both Android and iOS on Thursday.

To scan images, users simply have to tap the camera icon on the app and wave their smartphone over an image that includes the Shazam camera logo or a QR code. This will give them access to a variety of additional mobile experiences, such as exclusive information about the image, interactive content, special offers or a landing page that will allow them to purchase something.

The purpose of the feature is more to help marketers create new ways to reach out to their audience rather than help users discover the image they are looking at. Right now, a number of media outlets and retail companies have partnered with Shazam, including Walt Disney, Target, HarperCollins, Esquire, Time, The Wall Street Journal and Warner Bros. Interactive.

Users won't be expecting a lot of Shazamable images to pop up everywhere at once, but the first of these is a Walt Disney ad for the George Clooney film "Tomorrowland," set to be followed by a Shazam-enabled feature on Time's Sports Illustrated magazine and The Wall Street Journal's September issue of its Women's Fashion.

"The introduction of visual recognition is another step on our journey to extend the ways people can use Shazam to engage with the world around them," Rich Riley, CEO of Shazam, says in a statement. "For brands, we're providing a near-frictionless way to engage customers on their mobile devices with a single tap of a button."

This is not the first time such a marketing technique was developed. The ill-fated CueCat, hailed by many as the worst tech invention of the 2000s, used the same basic idea of scanning a bar code to open additional content on the Internet. However, while the CueCat required a special scanning device and the user to stay in front of his computer, Shazam only needs users to be holding their smartphones, a task that isn't hard to ask from many of us. Moreover, Shazam already has a strong monthly user base of 100 million people it can leverage to push its visual recognition features out to mainstream. 

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