By watching movies I often have a problem. The face of an actor seems familiar to me, but I can’t remember his name or where I have seen him before. In such moments I always wish there were an application which allows info searching based on pictures. And just a few days before I found out that such an app has been existed since almost two years, and the latest version was released in October 2011. So, meet Google Goggles – a wonderful service which helped me to learn many obvious things, to have a lot of fun and to get some ideas for new mobile applications Google Gogglescan be integrated with.
Google Goggles is a mobile application used for searches based on pictures taken by the camera of your smartphone. The official Google Goggles site claims, the application can recognize landmarks, artworks, books, logos, and wine and search for appropriate information in the Web. It should also scan QR codes to get product information, translate foreign language texts and add contacts by scanning business cards. Actually, Google Goggles should recognize any 2D image. And yes, the latest version can also solve Sudoku puzzles.
I was very excited after reading all of this. So, I downloaded the application on my Android device and started testing it.
Of course, I started with images recognition. The first pictures I tried were “Mona Lisa” and the Eiffel Tower.Google Goggles recognized them very fast and offered me results of its web search. My first feeling was “Wow! It does work!” But then I thought: “Seriously, are there still people in the world which don’t know the Eiffel Tower? Maybe there are, but they live somewhere in tropical forests and surely don’t have a smartphone”. So, I started with less popular landmarks and gave Google Goggles some sights of my native town. The app recognized the main Drama Theater, but on churches it failed. For a pretty well-known ancient church it suggested just the keyword “church” but not its name.
Then I started with people’s faces recognizing. Google Goggles knows Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise – that’s nice. But taking pictures of my colleagues was unfortunately of no use. Actually, that’s the point where we all had a lot of fun. Google Goggles has a very interesting feature – when it doesn’t recognize the image, it suggests similar pictures chosen by color and shape of the object. And there are not obligatory people on these pictures: we faced animals, toys, robots and so on. Yeah, it’s really entertaining – but it’s not the point of the app, is it?
Another attractive feature of Google Goggles is text recognition and translation. I tested the service on English, German and Russian texts and found out that the service works quite well with English and Russian but has problems with the German language (because of some specific letters). Google Translator is used then for text translation, what is actually not surprisingly. In general, if you are abroad and have to translate some menus and street signs - Google Goggles is what you need.
I won’t tell you about other services the mobile application Google Goggles offers – they are connected with the main two described above or just entertaining (like Sudoku solving). My general impression is of two kinds. I couldn’t tell Google Goggles works 100%. It often offers only well-known information like recognizing of the most famous sights and celebrities – but almost everybody knows them without Google Goggles. Text recognition also requires improvement – I thought, there were mistakes and misprints because of “freshness” of the app and was actually very surprised to learn it was almost two years old.
But the idea is great! Even now I have a couple of ideas about which mobile apps Google Goggles can be integrated with. There are applications e.g. for local orientation and searching for objects pointed by user like “My seven wonders”. Using both “My seven wonders” and Google Goggles, you can take photo of a landmark, learn something about it, add it to your favorite places and remember the route! Or if you need a taxi on the street, you can take photo of a car, Google Goggles will recognize it and a mobile guide-application like “Taxido” will tell you some information about this taxi service. I've already written about mobile technologies of the future - and I think, Google Goggles is a step to their realization. So, an elaborate cooperation between Google and other mobile application development service can implement the idea of augmented reality – and I do believe they’ll make.