Mark Elfenbein and his team are like digital fairy godparents. Elfenbein, chief digital officer of Slyce, knows how frustrating it is to see something you want and not be able to have it. So he and his team are working on an app that identifies and enables the purchase of any product, anywhere, anytime with just the snap of a picture.

This is the concept of their new shopping app, Slyce. “You can ‘Shazam’ a song and instantly buy it,” Elfenbein says about the inspirations behind the idea. “The idea grew much larger where we thought: wouldn’t it be great if you could take a picture of anything you liked and instantly buy it?”

The Calgary-based start-up recently acquired Toronto tech company, giving Slyce the proprietary technology it needs to match images with products. Elfenbein believes this is what will keep the product ahead of competitors. That vision has attracted international media attention and almost $15  million in funding.

“Slyce is now able to detect attributes in any image such as a mobile picture and then match that image against a specific brand catalog similar to a large fashion department store that may have hundreds of thousands” of product codes, Elfenbein says.

His team is working towards a digital experience that will combine two of the most popular pastimes since the smartphone got smarter – taking pictures and shopping online.

Sagal Gure, a business management student, thinks it’s a great idea. “I am quite the avid online shopper, so any technology that enhances my shopping experience I am more than happy to accept.” She has been shopping online since as long as she can remember, and acknowledges the importance of having an active online presence for retail businesses. “I think convenience is the key to a good app so I’m all for it. Slyce sounds ideal for me.”

High school student Christina DaGraca is more sceptical of the new app.“If I had on a pair of sunglasses and a random person started taking a picture of my face I’d be flattered but very alarmed at the same time,” she chuckles. “Maybe that’s just me.”

To both believers and non-believers, Elfenbein trusts that people just have to see the technology work before their own eyes. By that time, he believes there will be no discrepancies about what the product has to offer to the everyday consumer.

“Slyce will emerge as the ‘go-to’ technology to instantly acquire anything in the physical world,” he says. “Imagine being able to take a picture of a hole in your wall and getting the items you need to fix it instantly loaded into a mobile shopping cart, or snapping a photo of a hairdo you like and getting the specific hair products for that look in seconds.”