Monday, May 24, 2010

How to use Google Goggles

Google Goggles is scary cool. Point a camera at something and come up with a list of relevant links. This is theory behind a brand new technology harnessing the power of visual search.
The application itself is simple enough. It takes advantage of the phone's built in camera and when opened up looks very much like the default camera application. Once a photo is taken, Goggles provides a line like scanner graphic moving through the picture, which lets you know it is working at finding the results.
The first time I used Google Goggles, I pointed my camera a container of Folgers and ended up on Not too shabby. When I snapped a photo of my cat the application came up empty. I took pictures of just about everything I could and the results favored incredibly popular items, like name brand consumer goods. Otherwise there was a lack of results or at best a series of related images not always accurate with the photo I took.
Google Goggles has another ability, related to taking pictures, but with text and not objects. With Goggles it is possible to have text scanned from one language and have it translated into another. This can be a bit tricky because getting the camera to focus correctly on exactly what you want is not always straight forward, but once it works there is no longer a need to struggle with remembering high school French while sitting at a cafe in Paris.
The potential for this technology is staggering. Dieters could snap pictures of food and have a calorie count at their finger tips. Movie theaters and restaurants could provide show times and menus at the click of a button. Landmarks could serve up detailed histories and provide routes to the best place to purchase the perfect souvenirs. Gamers could take screen shots and get instant cheat codes or a walk through on a particularly difficult spot in their quest for power.
Okay, so the technology is not quite there yet. For now it is more like a fascinating, but geeky, thing to show off at a party. But if Google Earth is any indication of how dedicated Google is at getting their data in order, it will not be too long before I can snap pictures of pretty girls on the beach and get information on where to buy her brand of suntan oil.
Originally posted on Helium

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