Google Goggles uses pictures to search the web. This conjures visions of magic glasses that capture the world around you and flash back info right through the magic glasses. Anyone remember the tv show Romper Room? I really, truly believed that the magic mirror was real. Well Google Goggles is indeed real and it’s kind of what I was imagining it to be, sans glasses.
It currently runs on Android mobile devices and takes advantage of the great camera, GPS and tight integration with all things Google.
Open up the Goggles app, take a picture of product, a logo, a book – and the search tries to find something about the items in the image. I’ve been testing it out with odds and ends of stuff around my office. First up, a big bottle of handcream that I keep on my desk – it recognized the logo and took me to the product’s web site. The search on the actual text on the bottle was not relevant though.
Book cover photos turn up pretty good results, ranging from links to titles in Google Books, price comparison info, links to related web sites and in some cases, links to author info and an option to add the author to your contacts list. Pretty nifty. One book cover search even turned up a website with the exact image that was on the book cover. This will be far more useful in a bookstore than the Droid’s bar code scanning app, since bookstores often cover a book’s ISBN bar code with their own UPC bar code. Caution, you can get different results from photos of the same cover taken at different angles.
Goggles did have trouble recognizing logos on pens and other office products on my desk. It seemed to have trouble focusing on smaller text. But I can forgive it, I do too.
What I haven’t checked out yet is the landmarks feature. Point the camera at a building and the GPS is supposed to find where you are and give you info about your surroundings. Augmented reality anyone? I’ll try this out next time I get away from my desk. I feel like I’m finally get my magic mirror on the world.
For some more examples of Google Goggles in action, see CNET’s recent article:
A real-world test of Google Goggles visual search