First Look: Google Goggles tries to ID your world
Google's latest lab experiment lets you send it photos for identification.
Computerworld - On Monday, Google announced, along with its new real-time search feature, a photo-based search it is calling Google Goggles (which is hard to say without -- sorry -- giggling). Goggles lets you send photos of a business card, book cover or even bar code from your Android-based smartphone to Google for quick identification and data manipulation.
What does it do? Once installed, the process is pretty simple: You snap a photo by centering your image in the Goggles screen and pressing a small camera icon at the bottom of the screen. Goggles then scans the image, analyzes it and identifies it. If the image is of a business card, Goggles separates the information into fields and lets you put it into your Google Contacts database. If it's a book, the app offers to let you purchase or research it. If it's a store or a landmark, Goggles fetches Google search info about the location. (Objects such as cars, animals or people aren't, according to the instructions, really identifiable yet.)
What's cool about it? Well, let's face it -- pointing your smartphone at anything, clicking a button and having all the information about that object immediate appear is extremely cool.
How well does It work? As soon as my partner and I heard about Goggles, we immediately grabbed our Droids, installed the app and started clicking away at business cards, books and barcodes. Results were mixed, depending on what we were aiming at.
Goggles did pretty well on books, identifying most, but not all, of the covers we tested it with. For example, Goggles had no trouble with books such as an old copy of R.A. Lafferty's Past Master, or a new book like John Joseph Adams' The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but there were also several it couldn't handle. When Goggles did recognize a book, it offered links to price comparisons and previews of the book at Google Book Search; it also showed Web search results.
Results were more mixed when we tried it on business cards. While it did well on one or two extremely simple cards, for the most part, Goggles wasn't terribly efficient. It recognized some of the data as phone numbers and e-mail addresses, but on the whole, did a far worse job than most current business-card scanners I've tried.
Trying to identify a storefront was an interesting exercise. While I focused on a local florist's shop, the names of several nearby restaurants drifted back and forth on tiny tags along the bottom of the screen -- no doubt picked up by Google Latitude and/or Maps. If I clicked on one of the tags, I was brought to a series of Web entries for that restaurant. But when I took a photo of stores that were not suggested by the tags, Goggles was not able to identify any of them -- although it tried. The florist's shop, for example, brought up some search entries for an obscure medical condition.
What needs to be fixed? Right now, Goggles is very much a beta, and even sticking to those types of queries that Google suggests, the results are distinctly mixed. As a result, it's currently more a game or an experimental toy than a practical app. But that will change. And, for now at least, it works only on Android phones.
Final verdict: Google Goggles is simultaneously intriguing and just a bit scary. The range of items you can ID is still very limited, and its accuracy level is still very tentative, but both of those are bound to be corrected as soon as the folks at Google Labs continue to tweak this. So what's scary? The day when you can quickly point your smartphone at a person in the street and know within seconds that person's name and particulars may not be all that far off.
- Chrome users attack Google for zapping unsanctioned Windows add-ons
- Google postpones add-on 'kill switch' for Chrome on Windows
- Google yanks option to restore Chrome's old-style new tab page, riles users all over again
- Google's 3D tech could be boon to Glass, robots and virtual reality
- Google bots are coming!
- Antitrust deal leaves Google unscathed
- Google agrees to give equal prominence to rivals' services to settle EU antitrust case
- Lenovo-Moto deal's impact on Apple? Zip
- With Motorola sold, Google can focus on robots, Glass and smart homes
- Google is developing a smart contact lens
Read more about Networking in Computerworld's Networking Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Networking White Papers | Webcasts