Google‘s (GOOG) venture capital group is funding a fledgling company that promises to change the way analysts monitor changes in key global economic metrics.
Premise Data Corp. has found a novel way to track real-time changes in inflation. The startup uses smartphone-taken photos of products on store shelves, gathered by 700 workers in 25 cities, to track daily price changes, the Wall Street Journal.
The company’s software analyzes the images, extracting price, location and product category data. Under development for two years, Premise Data allows customers review the photos themselves to obtain detailed information about daily price changes.
While the photo-taking is novel, Premise Data obtains about 80% of its current inflation tracking data through other software that analyzes pricing information for products listed on retail websites.
The company’s launch is getting a boost from the on-going U.S. government shutdown, which has closed mainstay federal statistics outlets, forcing analysts and economists to turn to private ventures to get a read on vital economic metrics.