Google has launched a new application for Google Android mobile phones that will allow people to search for more information about a famous landmark or work of art simply by taking a photo of that object. The announcement came along with Google Real Time Live search.
Google Goggles can recognize books, tourist attractions, famous paintings and even company logos. Focus your phoneâ€™s camera on an object, and Google compares elements of that picture against its database of images and will point you to the relevant results.
Whatâ€™s more is the Google is able pinpoint the location of the phone user through the GPS software and digital compass built in to many of the phones that run Googleâ€™s Android operating system. The company says it can recognize tens of millions of objects and places.
oogle Goggles: Android and Beyond
I confirmed with Google this morning that the Goggles app will indeed reach other platforms. You may not want to hold your breath, however, for the Android exclusivity to end.
“It is our intention to quickly develop Goggles for the most popular mobile handsets and platforms,” Google’s Katie Watson tells me. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a specific timeframe to share.”
Bear in mind that Goggles is currently categorized as an experimental Google Labs product; it’s still in testing and actively being developed. It would make sense, then, to assume that Google might wait until the app is considered more robust and finalized before it expands its availability.
Google Goggles: What’s in the Works
Already, engineers have hinted at some of the development still underway with Goggles, saying that this early edition only “scratch[es] the surface of the visual search technology.” Google Goggles presently works best with nonliving objects — things like books, DVDs, and other products — and with landmarks and other physical locations. Food, cars, plants and animals aren’t presently among the program’s strengths.
“Today Goggles recognizes certain images in certain categories, but our goal is to return high-quality results for any image,” explains Vic Gundotra, Google’s vice president of engineering.
Future innovations described by the Goggles team include the ability to identify a plant by photographing its leaf, or even the ability to get advice on a chess game simply by snapping an image of a board.
As for any specifics on Goggle’s future roll-out to other platforms — what systems might be supported, how the app will be packaged outside of Android — Watson says it’s too early to state anything definitive. Just keep your fingers crossed that whenever the time does come, your platform of choice doesn’t ban Google from its shelves (Google Voice for iPhone, anyone?).
In the meantime, you can check out this hands-on tour for a detailed look at Goggles and how it works. I suspect you’ll be pretty impressed with what it can do.