Just when you thought there were no new breakthroughs to be had in search marketing … along comes Google Goggles. It’s a new “visual search” application focusing on computer vision for mobile phones, currently in development and testing at Google Labs. An early version has already been unveiled by the Goggles product development team and been released to Android mobile users.
What does Google Goggles do? It allows anyone to search on a cell phone simply by snapping a picture of an object. Once the picture has been taken, it is “read” by Google’s cloud, algorithms search for the information, the matches are ranked and detailed search results appear on your phone – just as if you had typed in a search command.
Because this is far easier to show than to explain, Google has issued a short video clip that features several members of the development team demonstrating how Goggles works. Currently, the app works well with inanimate objects such as DVDs, books, and physical landmarks. You can even point your phone to a store building while using the geo-targeting feature, and search results pertaining to the store and its merchandise will appear on your phone.
What doesn’t work so well are items like food, plants, animals and people … yet. Give it a few more years, and no doubt the brains at Google will have figured out those challenges as well.
While at present Goggles is available only to Android phone users, it is Google’s intention to develop and offer the program to other popular mobile platforms. So iPhone and BlackBerry users needn’t worry.
Incidentally, Goggles isn’t the only new development in search that’s happening right now. Google is also working on creating real-time translation in multiple languages by speaking a query into a search engine app. (The audio is translated into a digital request before being processed and returning results.) And developers at Ball State University are working on devices that can “read” search commands simply by the flick of a finger or by waving in front of the screen.
What’s next? Search results appearing after someone merely thinks about making a query?