News by Brian James Kirk on Monday December 07, 2009.
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Google today introduced new mobile search technologies that include Google Goggles, which lets mobile users take a picture and use that picture as a search query. The company also unveiled several other mobile search improvements around its location- and voice-based search services.
With Google Goggles, a user snaps a photo, images are sent to Google servers, vision algorithms analyze the image and look for detectable objects which create signatures for those objects. Those signatures are matched with an index of a billion images, ranked, and sent to a user's mobile device in a fraction of a second.
The company hopes to someday be able to visually identify any image. "Today, you have to frame a picture and snap a photo. But in the future, you'll simply be able to point to an object, and treat it as a mouse pointer for the real world," Google Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra said at a media event this afternoon. Goggles is available now in Android Market.
Using the Motorola Droid as a prototype, Gundotra showed how together with the cloud, a smartphone's speaker, microphone, camera, GPS chip, and microphone become powerful tools when combined. "That camera connected to the cloud, becomes an eye. The microphone becomes an ear," he said. Gundotra than showed off Google's new search technologies around location and voice.
In addition to English and Mandarin, the company has added Japanese to its Voice Search application. The company additionally shared a prototype of real-time voice translation and transmission, not yet available.
Location-based suggestion searches have been added as well. A search for "re" in Boston automatically pulls up local search query possibilities, like "Red Sox," for example. A future version of Google Product Search is also being localized, offering consumers the chance to see if the products they search for are available in stock locally.
Google's new "Near me now" feature lets users search categories of interest close to their current location with one click. The query can show what relevant interests are related to the location you are currently at, comparing related information using categorization and ratings. The company has launched Google Mobile Maps for Android, including the new nearby feature, available now in Android Market.
Brian James Kirk
Brian is a former news editor on MobileBurn.com that freelances in Philadelphia. You can follow him on Twitter as @BrianJamesKirk.