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Google Launches Visual Search With ‘Goggles’

December 8, 2009

Google on Monday showed off a new mobile feature that will allow users to search by snapping a photo on their phone.

Google unveiled the “Goggles” software at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

Goggles allows people to use pictures taken with mobile phone cameras based on Google’s mobile operating system Android.

“In a nutshell, Goggles lets users search for objects using images rather than words,” Vic Gundotra, Google’s Vice President of Engineering, wrote on the company’s mobile blog.

“Right now Goggles identifies landmarks, works of art, and products, and in all cases its ability to “see further” is rooted in powerful computing, pervasive connectivity, and the cloud.”

The search by photo process begins with the user’s image being sent to Google’s datacenter, where signatures of objects in the image are created and compared to all other known items in the image recognition database.

The process continues as Google determines how many matches exist and it returns one or more search results, based on available meta data.

“Computer vision, like all of Google’s extra-sensory efforts, is still in its infancy,” said Gundotra.

“Today Goggles recognizes certain images in certain categories, but our goal is to return high quality results for any image. Today you frame and snap a photo to get results, but one day visual search will be as natural as pointing a finger — like a mouse for the real world.”

The software is available on the Google Labs Web site.

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