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Google Visual Search Coming Soon to Android 111

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the my-donut-shop-returned-goatse dept.
Several sources have shared the news that "Google Goggles," publicly known as Google Visual Search, will be "coming soon" to an Android phone near you. Rather than typing in the search term, you will be able to just take a picture with your phone and search results will be returned. The new search was recently featured on CNBC's "Inside the Mind of Google." Unfortunately Goggles didn't pass muster with a recent focus group, so it could be a while before Google decides this is ready to hit the streets.
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Google Visual Search Coming Soon to Android

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  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:51PM (#30355412) Journal

    The possibilities here are so boundless that it simply boggles the mind.

    • by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:55PM (#30355456)
      ..and the chance of them getting working A.I. to handle the suggested visual recognition task reasonably well is so small that it also boggles the mind.
      • Yeah, I agree. Alas.

      • AI needed? (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Ed Avis (5917)
        What are the odds that the service doesn't use the image at all, but just uses the phone's GPS sensor, compass, and orientation sensor to work out what object you're looking at?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by amicusNYCL (1538833)

          Do you suppose that there is a database containing the physical locations of all objects? How exactly would you use a GPS and orientation information to figure out which object a person is taking a picture of, a car for example?

        • by Tsar (536185)
          Linked videos show testers taking photos of consumer products such as books and food items (a Tabasco label, for example). If Google Goggles can identify any small item I'm looking at using only my GPS coordinates and orientation, we should just surrender now and pray that Richard Brautigan wasn't being too optimistic [redhousebooks.com].
        • That seems like it would only work for stores/buildings/houses that were already registered in some sort of Google database. And besides, why would you need to Google something that you're standing five feet from?
          • "coming soon," eh? I guess that's a little pornographic. Anyhow, judging by how long it took for Google Voice to show up after it was "coming soon," I wouldn't hold my breath for anything.
      • by foobsr (693224)
        Probably getting an 'A.I.' to handle the recognition task is not the main problem, rather developing a sufficiently semantically rich picture based language to meet the needs of the reading comprehension impaired (to convey results) is.

        CC.
      • by poetmatt (793785)

        Why is this a hard idea to you? Japan has had similar ideas for years. [i4u.com] The idea even floated around the US a bit previously [gizmodo.com].

        Add google's location tagging, even if they just use the wifi one that is probably about a 1/2 mile radius of the picture location, and they still could be quite reasonably accurate (and quite easily at that).

        So actually, the chance for you understanding the article seems to be smaller than the supposed chance of them doing an easy task which you deem insurmountable.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          Why is this a hard idea to you?

          Why arent the existing one very successful?

          Nobody is doing this well, and not just because they havent throw enough database at it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ephemeriis (315124)

        ..and the chance of them getting working A.I. to handle the suggested visual recognition task reasonably well is so small that it also boggles the mind.

        Since when do you need AI?

        There's already plenty of machine vision software out there... Hell, my crappy digital camera is able to recognize a face well enough to tell if somebody blinked. All it has to do is match the image you just took to another image in its database with some degree of accuracy.

        Then it can use the tags on the similar image to look things up... Or the words surrounding that similar image on the web...

      • by Z34107 (925136)

        IF they did get the AI working, they'd have the "Eden" search engine from Eden of the East [wikipedia.org].

        Although admittedly, Eden just let you tag people and objects, not search for them.

      • Try boggling on the logarithmic scale, it looks a lot bigger that way :)
      • by Squiff (1658137)
        It's already here, for a subset of images: http://www.plinksearch.net/apps.html [plinksearch.net] Works quite well here
    • by natehoy (1608657) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:55PM (#30355460) Journal

      Is that why I took a picture of the Washington Monument and got a wide range of results on specific "medications"?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The trouble is, you'd need a source image to start with!

    • by insnprsn (1202137)
      Dont you mean googles the mind?
    • Please refer to http://www.tineye.com [tineye.com].

      This Google visual search seems more targeted at recognising locations, tourist attractions, and billboards.

    • by vodevil (856500) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:44PM (#30356060)

      The possibilities here are so boundless that it simply boggles the mind.

      I fear for some people's self esteem...they're going to take a picture of their own dick, and google will return the results... "Did you mean to search for penis?"

  • Great Idea, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:54PM (#30355452)
    Image searching combined with the fantastically bad cameras on all smart phones. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but not so great in practice. For now.
    • by SparkEE (954461) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:12PM (#30355666)
      In the video, a user takes a picture of the sign at Santa Monica Pier and gets a search result. Seems like it would be practical and quicker to have location based information available. Right now I can open up Google maps, hit "My Location", Tap on the building for Santa Monica Pier, and I get it's address. They should just add an option there to do a search. No camera needed, which also means it will work at night.
      • by Sockatume (732728)

        That's a fairly daunting interface for the inexperienced phone user, though. Pointing and taking a pic, not so much, even if it's doing the same thing (looking up your location and the direction you're facing) in the back end.

      • by edumacator (910819) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:29PM (#30355866)

        That's just eye candy. The real benefit of this is if you a barcode, or a bottle of laundry detergent or a distant landmark, like Stone Mountain in Georgia, and then get relevant information. I know what Stone Mountain is, but someone from out of town wouldn't, so they wouldn't have the name to search...and location based option, while useful, would give you WAY too many results.

        That said, it'll be nice on a few rare occasions, but generally it will be used just for fun. As long as it is free, that's fine with me.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          There are already several barcode scanners on the Android marketplace. There are also apps [snaptell.com] that let you scan the cover of DVD's or other small items to retrieve pricing and other information in a hurry -- these work pretty well. At the very least, it would be cool to have the ability to take a picture of some blob of text and receive an OCR conversion on the phone. Though the 3.2MP camera on my G1 may struggle a bit with shooting some text clearly, I would think more powerful cameras (like the 5MP one equip
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:14PM (#30355684)

      Google Similar Images is offered, and works quite well, for images of a poorer resolution than even the crappiest phone cams on sale today. Besides, Android handsets have your location and view direction already, which cuts the problem down enormously. I suspect they could do it without any image recognition at all and get remarkably good results.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by clone53421 (1310749)

        Interesting. Similar Images doesn’t let you upload any old image, which is unfortunate, but it is a worthwhile tool to add to my online toolbelt.

        Tineye [tineye.com], on the other hand, lets you upload any picture (or give it a URL) and it attempts to find similar images using actual image recognition. It is supposed to work for cropped, rotated, composite, or re-coloured images. I find its results to be pretty impressive, sometimes. They do need to expand their image database, though.

        For instance. [tineye.com]

        • Tineye should be working hard to have Google buy it. (Mostly because when Google has what they have they'll fade quickly into oblivion) Been watching them for a while now.

          Alternatively they could sell a batch search program/sell batch searches. Rights holders or people like the mpaa would give them big bags of money to be able to search for anyone who has 'infringing' images up.

          Also, hilarious image match :D
          • Also, hilarious image match :D

            I assume you mean that last result? Yeah, and it also illustrates how well Tineye does at finding similar-but-slightly-different images.

            I’ve also had luck using it to find originals from images that had text added.

    • Image searching combined with the fantastically bad cameras on all smart phones.

      The camera on my phone (a Nokia 6600 slide) takes quite good pictures. I don't know how you define "bad", but the camera is perfectly able to take pictures in which the grass is green and the sky blue, and where you recognise the faces of who you took the picture from.
      Here [diffuse.it] are [diffuse.it] some [diffuse.it] pictures [diffuse.it], just [diffuse.it] so that you get the idea (and those are resized).

    • by sootman (158191)

      Since when is 3MP "fantastically bad"?

  • by Fdisk81 (833349) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:04PM (#30355568)
    I'm sure they'll have plenty of time to work out the kinks during Beta.
  • The goggles (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frohboy (78614) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:04PM (#30355570)

    Unfortunately Goggles didn't pass muster with a recent focus group, so it could be a while before Google decides this is ready to hit the streets.

    So, the Goggles... they do nothing?

  • My first thought was this TED video: http://blog.ted.com/2009/03/sixth_sense_demo.php [ted.com]. It would be interesting to have a heavyweight like Google developing tools to bring such a product to consumers.
    • And Google gets yet another stream of data on you. What products you're looking at... Comparison shopping by UPC... People are flat out willing ot sell their soul for a "free" service

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I was going to reply to your previous rant about how GOGLE ARE TEH EVAL, but instead I'll reply here.

        99(.9999)% of people don't care about their data enough to sacrifice Google's useful services, nor should they. The proof of the pudding is in the eating - most people are well aware of Google's [Service Data -> Advertisment] business model, but they still use Google services (and those that aren't clearly don't care about their data).

        • Most people have enough sense and humility to know they're not the
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:14PM (#30355686)

    I wonder why folks at Android (read Google) do not focus on web functionalities that matter in today's age.

    Heck, we need Flash and PDF capabilities by default. Yes...by default. I know there are apps for these but "default" is the key word here. Now what's wrong with that?

    Secondly how come Google's own Google Maps works better on the iPhone than Android phones? It should be the other way round...after all it's their product.

    Come on Google do something.

    • PDF reader comes on default with (an)droid, and it is up to Adobe to come with Flash solution. After all, nobody can develop Flash VM but Adobe.

      As for google maps, you really didn't elaborate what is the issue with them on android platform.

      • by Tacvek (948259)

        Nobody can develop a Flash VM but Adobe? That is nonsense. What you meant to say was that nobody can use the swf documentation to develop a Flash VM wihtout first getting permission from Adobe.

        Also, what pdf reader comes by default on an Android phone? I'm guessing you mean the one developed by HTC and that is only available on non Google-Experience phones (phones that don't have the Google logo on them).

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        What PDF that comes with Android on the G1? I got Donut, and PDF reading doesn't happen.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        As for google maps, you really didn't elaborate what is the issue with them on android platform.

        I suspect the OP was being fanboyish. There is no problem with Google Maps on Android, especially with the latest version which links into the Perth traffic and public transport data (Transperth) and add these as layers.

    • With HTML 5 (which Google is helping push for) you won't need Flash so much anymore.

      I don't need a PDF reader anymore given that Google will take a PDF on the web, and rerender it as HTML for me automatically.

      • I don't need a PDF reader anymore given that Google will take a PDF on the web, and rerender it as HTML for me automatically.

        So if someone emails a PDF file to you, all you have to do is upload it to a web server and then have Google translate it? Sure beats Foxit reader, right?

      • Their PDF->HTML thing could really use some work. Many PDFs look totally different.
        • by Qu4Z (1402097)

          It works fine for me, but then I'm usually only interested in the text anyway.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      maybe because your comment has nothing to do with visual search (it's offtopic), and you don't want *flash* capability at all? Google is going HTML5, which removes the need for flash in it's entirety. If you want PDF capability just use cyanogenmod [cyanogenmod.com] and quit acting like it's google's fault.

      cyanogenmod = significantly faster performance, more applications available with more functionality (1 click gps/wifi/bluetooth/etc), PDF by default, exchange support, and all OS versions including cyanogen = navigation su

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        "Google is going HTML5, which removes the need for flash in it's entirety"

        This will not automagically convert every Flash site to HTML5 all by it's goodness.

        Until Adobe provides Flash for most Android devices, and of course the iPhone, then these devices are not as useful as they might be.

        And HTML5 authoring tools are probably not as good as Flash tools, so there will be new Flash development for white a while.

        I don't blame Google for the lack of flash on my G1. I blame Adobe for failing two deadlines, and

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by poetmatt (793785)

          cyanogenmod takes you about 5 minutes.

          install addon via code.google.com that lets you flash it.
          download update flash, backup existing memory.
          reboot into cyanogenmod.

          done, only further step is if you intend to format the memory card for ext3 so that you can store as many apps as you want. Also probably takes 10+minutes to download cyanogenmod. Yes, it is the solution and unlike apple, you're not going to be behind on updates or bricked due to flashing.

          The bigger pain is when you have a million apps, you have

          • by rickb928 (945187)

            I have 3 apps that I want to back up data for, and that takes 10 minutes there.

            My card has 384M free space, and the EXT3 part is only 256M. I need to copy off 7+GB of music etc and reformat. Then I need to put most of it back on, another hour. I really need a 16G Class 6 card.

            It will take at least an hour to let apps restore, same as it does after a wipe.

            In the real world, it actually takes time, more than I can spare this week and next.

            If it really only took 10 minutes, it would have been done 6 months ag

            • by poetmatt (793785)

              I really need a 16G Class 6 Card

              Why not get 2 8GB's and be done with it? 8GB class 6's are much easier to obtain. Since USB3 isn't exactly around yet for common use, the rest does pretty much suck.

              • by rickb928 (945187)

                Swapping cards under apps2sd must be fun.

                I'll get the big one. Hoping to see a 32G card soon. 64 would cost me a kidney

      • "HTML5, which removes the need for flash in it's entirety."

        Errr..... It might remove a lot of flash videos on streaming sites. I don't think it will impact flash games... And people with flash sites are unlikely to do differently.
    • Flash and pdf are client-side issues, and the hardware isn't really up to the task. Image search is a server-side issue, so the two really have nothing to do with each other. Image search, if it works on a phone, would work just as well on the net. The issue is that it won't work.

    • Secondly how come Google's own Google Maps works better on the iPhone than Android phones? It should be the other way round...after all it's their product.

      Probably the same reason I can click the back button in Gmail and have it work in Firefox but not in Chrome.

    • how come Google's own Google Maps works better on the iPhone than Android phones?

      Because Apple developed the iPhone Maps app, not Google. I read somewhere that Google's engineers were pretty impressed when the first saw it, although I can't find the article at the moment.

    • > Secondly how come Google's own Google Maps works better on the iPhone than Android phones?

      In what way? I don't have an iphone so I have no basis for comparison, but the Motorola Droid's Google maps is supersplendiforous.

  • On my next date, she whips out her cell phone camera, snaps a quick shot, shoots it off to Google, and gets results on me.

    "Honey, that chicken is a filthy liar! She so wanted it at the time!"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First you need a naked woman to see more naked woman.

    And if you take a picture of your cock, you will get pictures of more cocks.

    • by martas (1439879)
      take a picture of your ass, with nipples drawn on it (yep, south park reference).

      or, just search using the famous XP "green buttocks and blue skies" wallpaper.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Time to buy stock in realistic blow-up dolls.

  • This is the First step. Next as soon as we see an item, our brain will be bombarded with price list from different web stores and we will know where to buy it cheap. Think of a Java code, it will be in your brain along with some not so disruptive ads.
    Thanks it is Google who are working on it. If it were MS, Ballmer would have squirted a lot more than necessary.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by inviolet (797804)

      This is the First step. Next as soon as we see an item, our brain will be bombarded with price list from different web stores and we will know where to buy it cheap. Think of a Java code, it will be in your brain along with some not so disruptive ads. Thanks it is Google who are working on it.

      Yep yep. There's a dark side, though. This will completely change the game regarding the (currently) presumed anonymity of photographs. Today it is impossible to take somebody's photo and then search for all matchin

  • The Amazon app for Android offers the ability to search for an item by either barcode or photo. According to the Amazon blurb, there are real people behind the requests that actually look for the items pictured and send results. I have used it twice and both times they found what I needed, but the results took about 10-15 minutes to get to me. I wonder if Google will just have 10,000 wage slaves working the results queue?
    • I believe they are using automated fuzzy image searches.

      • by psm321 (450181)

        It's a combination of both. Sometimes you'll get a result immediately (say for a clear shot of the front cover of a book), which is the automatic algorithm. When it takes a few minutes, it's people. (I read this somewhere in the help or description of the app and have had both types of results)

    • by eamonman (567383)

      Actually when I bought the Droid I assumed Google had some app that did that, but oh well. The amazon app is more funny than actually useful (last week I took a picture of a random ice cream sign, and it comes back with a weight loss book). In general it works pretty well with common objects from picturesque views.

      Time to go download google goggles and test that google real time search thing too...

  • Google Goggles is available for install from the Android Market place right now.

    It works great for logos, and can even OCR business cards. Though, it seems to be a tad crashy on the Droid.

  • It's not coming soon, it's already there. I downloaded and installed the app, it's an OCR that can also read logos and barcodes. If you take a photo of a product with text, logos or barcodes it will know what that product is.

    I took a photo of a tape dispenser with nothing but the table in background, it wasn't able to figure out it is a photo of a tape dispenser, it gave me a list of similar photos which had nothing at all to do with tape dispenser, there was even a photo of a swan.

    I took a photo of a

    • It misses a lot of stuff to be sure, but it got the GoodYear logo of my son's toy truck, correctly identified an Audobon print in my living room, the Stevens Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment book (from the spine, and rotated about 30*-45*, no barcode to be seen), and even correctly identified my guitar as a Fender Jazz Bass. How it figured out it was a *bass* at all I fail to comprehend; 5 string tuners instead of 6? And a /jazz/ bass? Maybe it guessed and got lucky.

  • Here. You can test it right now:
    http://betalabs.nokia.com/betas/view/nokia-point-and-find [nokia.com]

    It’s sad, how often Slashdot is full of hype about Google or Apple doing things, that others did for a loong time.
    Must be sad to live the 3rd world of the mobile phone industry. :/

    It’s really hard not to do a “shameless plug” for Nokia phones yet again...

  • I have this software running on my phone, and it does work.
    What stuns me is that while this thing is in 'beta' and returning poor search results, they have the opportunity to 'train up' the AI, while also keeping hold of a bevy of images that they collect from a few thousand (or hundred thousand) phones that geeks like us were willing to install it on...

    I bet that the corpus of images they collect during the next 4 years - the beta period - will be pretty impressive, and kind of scary. I bet that they claim

  • bar codes are your friend. as are product codes and other text that may be scanned.
  • I've installed Google Goggles and gave it a test run. It works brilliantly. I haven't tried any landmarks yet, but I took a picture of a textbook sitting on my desk and it recognised it and took me to book reviews, and I could preview the book on Google Books. The picture had major glare issues and it still worked fine. Thinking it was a fluke, I took a picture of a second textbook and sure enough it worked perfectly again. 2 from 2 aint bad.
    • by Barryke (772876)

      Ditto. Seems to work excellent for recognizing global brands (mostly useless), and just about any (physical) media container, barcodes or information. (very usefull)

      Downside: it eats lots 'o battery!

  • Great, now searches for "human" will return everyone with a picture on the net.

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