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Review of Visual Search Technology: Google Goggles Takes Pictures, Relevant Search Results

Tue December 08 2009 4:42 am
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Imagine putting on some magic glasses that could produce a Google search result for anything seen through those glasses — a landmark, a painting, a business card, a book cover. Google Labs is on the way to doing that with Google Goggles. So far The Cardinal tested a business card and a print of the Mona Lisa 16th century portrait by Leonardo da Vinci. Both worked flawlessly.

Putting Google Goggles to work on a business card with an Android phone (Motorola Droid), the app correctly identified the contact’s full name, website, phone, fax phone, and two e-mail addresses. Each result was accompanied by an icon that hints use for the information. You take a picture with the Goggles app, and you see the still image with a ‘laser line’ taking a scan of the still image. Seconds later the data and/or search result is produced.

A click on the search icon next to the name or the contact’s name produced a Google search result on that contact’s name.

A click on the icon next to the web address or the web address opened the web browser to the website.

A click on the phone icon or the listed phone number, dialed the phone number with the Motorola Droid.

A click on the e-mail opened the e-mail app with the contact’s e-mail address in the TO: field.

A click on ADD TO CONTACTS, added the contact to the phone’s contact database.

Putting Google Goggles to work on a print of the Mona Lisa painting produced a Google search result of ‘Mona Lisa’ with image and relevant text results.

Checking a couple of other photographs brought mixed results. A photo of Tiger Woods swinging a golf club produced a successful search result. Using Google Goggles on a picture of Chicago White Sox player Jermaine Dye on the cover of a White Sox program did not produce any results.

Google informs users that certain images, such as food, cars, plants, pets or animals, will not produce successful results. But they claim they are working on handling more image recognition. They claim users will be able to take a picture of a leaf and identify the species of the respective tree that Google Goggles just acquired.

For information on other features that The Cardinal didn’t test, and more information about Google Goggles, see the video from Google below …

Google Goggles video shows how to identify a landmark, a book, a business card contact, and a cool feature that uses the compass and camera (without clicking to save the image) to identify a business that you are ‘looking at’ through Google Goggles.

At its current level, Google Goggles is adept at identifying contacts from business cards, identifying paintings and pictures, and books from book covers. No doubt this helps with business and personal tasks for acquiring information.

According to a TechRadar UK article, Google Goggles is expected to go multi-platform, and will be available for the iPhone. Quoting Google source Hugo Barra, “Android is currently the platform our developers are a little bit more comfortable with.”

Imagine future possibilities. Image a leaf and get the name of the species of a tree. Image an exercise machine at the health club and get a Google search result on the function of that machine. Image a vehicle and get search results on the make and model of the car. Image the picture of an actor on a movie poster and determine the identity of the actor. Take a picture of a product at a store, get the search results, pick a website on the product, and bookmark it for reference later. Imagine all Wikipedia images referenced, so that a close match with a Wikipedia image would give fast access to that Wikipedia entry. Imagine facial recognition to access identity of pictures of faces on public websites — yes it works on a picture of some celebrities that that are displayed on a picture on a computer screen.

Imagine Google or the government knowing everything you imaged. Oh that’s creepy. Maybe I will turn my phone off at night. Just kidding … I think.

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