So, imagine the scenario. You're walking down a busy street and you see a poster for a band, movie or an event that catches your eye. You don't have time to stop and write down details. Even if you do you've got to remember to look it up on the web when you get home.

Now imagine being able to take a picture of the poster with your camera-phone, click a button and get information there and then.

Well, it's not imagination any more thanks to a new Microsoft Research project called Lincoln.

Thanks to some very powerful image libraries and clever server side technology doing the heavy lifting they now have the ability to do pretty fast image recognition with some pretty average comparison images - my phone has a 1.3mp camera with a pretty dirty lens. No zoom, no flash etc, but I was able to take a snap of a poster on the wall at work and seconds later have details of the even available to me. It even worked when I downloaded the image to my machine and took the picture of what was displayed on my screen!

The lookup works on images uploaded and made public by anyone, so it's not limited by what Microsoft choose to upload but anyone can put up an image of their event poster, CD release, DVD cover along with relevant information and when a user searches for it in the real world they can find out about your event or see Amazon reviews of your DVD.

I know there have been efforts like this before to connect the real world to the interweb, but most have relied on QR Codes or invisible (to the naked eye) printing - but they require on specific printing techniques or compromises on the artwork, whereas this can be used retrospectively to webify existing material.

I'd love to see magazine advertisers do this as well - so rather than having to look for and remember their URL when I read the magazine in a reception area I can simply snap a quick photo and look up all the details when I have a moment.