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Google launches Goggles

Google launches Goggles

The Google Goggles application - currently available in beta form for Android handsets - offers impressive searching of real-world objects.

Google is looking to integrate search more tightly with the real world with the launch of a couple of services for use with your mobile 'phone.

First up is Google Goggles, an app which has already hit the Android platform - and is possibly due on the iPhone pretty soon. Reported by TechCrunch from a press event held by Google, it's a radical departure from the norm which promises to make searching for information while out and about significantly easier.

Rather than relying on a typed search term - or even voice recognition, which has been a staple of Google's US search offerings for quite some time - Google Googles allows you to simply snap a picture of an item, which is then uploaded to Google and analysed: the service looks for cover images, recognisable text, barcodes, anything it can use to figure out exactly what you've snapped - and then searches for it.

The example captured on video by TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid was searching for information on a book casually strewn on a table - which worked pretty impressively, pulling up reviews and product links from simply the front cover image.

The book was, conveniently, placed in the perfect position for such tricks, of course: on a plain, white, well-lit surface. How well the technology will fair in the real world - where movie posters are unevenly lit, and books are held in your hand against an out-of-focus patterned carpet - is a test which will have to await the launch of the app.

The technology isn't just about objects, either: in a non-live demonstration, Google showed that simply by taking a picture of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in Swan Fransisco more information could be found.

The second technology designed to further insinuate the advertising giant into our lives is rather more mundane by comparison: 2D QRcoding. MaximumPC has reported on Google's plan to distribute over 100,000 2D 'barcode' stickers - based on the QRCode system - to the top local businesses in the US by search ranking. These stickers can be placed in a window and snapped by anyone with a QR-capable smartphone - including Android, Symbian, and the iPhone - to bring up a Google Place Page which contains reviews, contact details, and the ability to add the business to a list of favourites.

Neither of these ideas are new: connecting single-dimension barcodes to interactive content formed the basis of the long-departed and much derided CueCat service, and QRCodes are always threatening to be the next big thing. Even the image-based searching isn't completely new, with prior attempts at the technology from multiple companies - including mobile 'phone giant Nokia's Point and Find - singularly failing to set the world afire. That said, this has something the others didn't: Google's search expertise, massive directory, and the power of possibly the biggest brand in the world.

Does the idea of Google Goggles fill you with excitement, or does the tacit admission that now Google can start analysing your habits from photographs fill you with dread? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

11 Comments

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Musicboffin 8th December 2009, 10:14 Quote
"Google Googles allows you to simply snap a picture of an item"

Nice proof reading...
Radical_Monkey 8th December 2009, 10:28 Quote
cant find it here in the uk :(
leveller 8th December 2009, 10:33 Quote
Awesome application!

We will be able to forget about tourist guides and those funny radio devices you get in museums. Expanding on the idea, if the device can recognise famous places, surely it could be developed to recognise curbs, pavements, posts, roads, obstacles etc. Thereby the blind could use it with a spoken word system to navigate?
scawp 8th December 2009, 10:45 Quote
When Google (aka skynet) take control and enslave the human race you'll think back and say "Actually thinking about it Microsoft wasn't that evil after all, we miss you Bill"
l3v1ck 8th December 2009, 11:08 Quote
Clever, but not something I'd see myself using.
l3v1ck 8th December 2009, 11:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by scawp
.....you'll think back and say "Actually thinking about it Microsoft wasn't that evil after all, we miss you Bill"
I'm already thinking that about Apple. They're worse than MS ever were for locking you in.
nicae 8th December 2009, 11:37 Quote
If I held the Golden Gate Bridge book while naked, it would return links about elephants.

HA HA HA :(
eek 8th December 2009, 12:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by article
iconic Golden Gate Bridge in Swan Fransisco
lol?
dec 8th December 2009, 19:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by scawp
When Google (aka skynet) take control and enslave the human race you'll think back and say "Actually thinking about it Microsoft wasn't that evil after all, we miss you Bill"

does that mean that the first google machine will be arnold sch....*snip*....er?

im moving to antarctica for judgment day
Neophyte4Life 8th December 2009, 23:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dec
Quote:
Originally Posted by scawp
When Google (aka skynet) take control and enslave the human race you'll think back and say "Actually thinking about it Microsoft wasn't that evil after all, we miss you Bill"

does that mean that the first google machine will be arnold sch....*snip*....er?

im moving to antarctica for judgment day

Hopefully it will not have melted away by then.....

I think the idea is great especially when i cant remember what something is called. Now we just need cheap 3d image capture so image angles wont affect performance. Maybe they can incorporate something like Photosynth?
smoothie 10th December 2009, 05:24 Quote
I have an Android 2.0 phone (the Droid), and as soon as I got this app I tested it on a bunch of things around my place. It worked very well; they warn you it won't perform well if you snap pictures of food, clothing, or furniture, but if you snap a picture with the label in focus (the camera takes a few moments before snapping the picture because it has an auto-focus feature that's worked very well for me so far.
The search accurately identified and displayed relevant content for a few of my textbooks, my flash drive, a bottle of NOS, a Sam Adams winter lager, Canon printer, and Staples brand staples, and other things I won't bother to list. The lighting wasn't ideal, and I left most of these objects in the position I found them.
It couldn't match a plain red plastic cup, or an HP ink cartridge (the camera wouldn't focus on the logo or numbers). Overall, I'd say it performed pretty well.
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