The Japan Times has reported on a new mobile phone-based craze that has swept Japan this Spring.

Using the free-of-charge service, called "kaocheki", meaning "face check", people email their photograph via their mobile to find out which celebrities they look like the most.

Kaocheki uses facial recognition technology more common in security-related applications to match facial characteristics.

Within a few seconds of people sending their pic to either male@kaocheki.jp (for men) or female@kaocheki.jp (for women) they receive a list of their top three celebrity matches.

The service was only launched by J-Magic in April this year but has seen over 20 million people send in their images for analysis.

A more commercial utilisation of this image recognition technology has also been introduced by the same company.

The "eyenowa" search engine uses image analysis technology developed by Olympus to recognise products submitted by enquirers.

So, if you see a product, like a CD or a book in a magazine that you like the look of, if you snap a picture of the item you can email it to search@eyenowa.jp.

In reply you get an email with links to sites that have more info on the product, and obviously sites offering that item for sale.

J-Magic has about 45,000 products in the database, mainly CDs, books to DVDs but is planning to expand into the fashion market.

The Japan Times article reports that J-Mobile has had enquiries from Italy and America about possibly exporting the technology.

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