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The future of grocery shopping with AI

Instacart is upgrading its AI-powered search with a new vision capability, which should allow users to search the platform using their own handwritten recipes and shopping lists. The company said it wants to leverage the latest AI advancements to deepen the relationship people have with food and grocery shopping.

Its early access and adoption of the new vision-enabled GPT-4 Turbo with Vision (GPT-4V) is the latest such example.

"Today, we’re sharing a preview of what we’re cooking up next: upgrading our existing AI-powered Ask Instacart search feature with this new vision capability," said JJ Zhuang, chief architect at Instacart. "Soon, in addition to being able to ask food-related questions in natural language, Instacart users will be able to use Ask Instacart to convert handwritten recipes and shopping lists directly into digital, shoppable item lists in the Instacart app. The vision-enabled Ask Instacart will decipher ingredients and quantities in a single step so that our users don’t have to do the mental translation and manually look for one item at a time."

Once users take a photo of their list — a family recipe or a shopping list of groceries — the Instacart app will analyze the image, recognize the text and convert it into a comprehensive, shoppable list of items. Users can select or de-select specific ingredients and then instantly place an order.

The company will launch this feature in the Instacart app to a small number of customers in the next few weeks and more widely in the coming months.

"This feature is the latest in a set of generative AI-enabled shopping experiences we’re building to help people more easily answer the eternal, 'What’s for dinner?' question," said Zhuang. "From the Instacart plugin for ChatGPT to Ask Instacart, which lets people ask open-ended food questions in natural language– like, 'What are dairy-free snacks for kids?' or even, 'What should I make for dinner if I have kale and cheddar in my fridge?' — we believe that AI can help us create personalized, inspirational, value-driven shopping experiences that enrich peoples’ relationship with food and the retailers and brands they love."

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