Ars Technica turned me on to CoolIris several weeks ago, and since then I’ve stayed on top of the company’s news. CoolIris uses a 3D-like interface for browsing pictures and video on a range of websites including biggies like Google, YouTube and Flickr. There’s also a Discover feature for catching up on specific topics like news, sports, technology, etc. Very, very cool, but honestly more novelty than anything else. I don’t see the average Joe Shmoe bothering to download the plug-in.
On the other hand, the company’s new Shopping feature is a potential game changer. It’s even got Om Malik rethinking his position on plug-ins.
CoolIris replicates the window-shopping and catalog-flipping experience on the Web better than any other application to date. Forget apps like Zinio (a magazine digitizer which our buddy Kevin Tofel loves, but I’ve never been able to get into), browsing with CoolIris is smooth and instantaneous. Perfect for shopping.
Looking for a shirt at Macy’s? With CoolIris you can bring up a wall of photos showing everything available, scan it, and click on anything for a closer look. There are logical menus (apparel, kitchen, Jewelry, etc.), and there’s also a search function. The interface is beautiful. Reminds me quite a bit of an Apple app. You get the feel of momentum moving along the CoolIris wall the same way you do when scanning along a screen on the iPhone.
There’s still a lack of content on several of the shopping sites CoolIris has listed, but that’s sure to change. If the retail partners have any sense, they’ll start promoting the application directly from their home sites. It’s a nice online differentiator just in time for holiday shopping. And in this economy retailers will need everything they can get to draw in customers.