January 30, 2018

Google Lens and the Start of Visual Search

Published: 30 January 2018 

There are few companies who can boast of such a reputation for innovation, which comes anywhere near to that of Google. The company changed the world when they first released their search engine all those years ago. Almost overnight, the internet went from being an impenetrable fortress, accessible only to those who already knew exactly where to go, to the wonderful open expanse of knowledge that it is today.

Since then, Google has continued to innovate in a number of different fields. The company is one of the pioneers of driverless car technology, something that promises to revolutionise personal transport over the coming decades. Their voice assistant and accompanying AI can be found in every Android-based smartphone and in the increasingly popular Google Home devices.

Both inside our homes and out, Google is developing some of the most important technologies for the near future. Among their most exciting projects is Google Lens.

What is Google Lens?

Google Lens is a new app designed to enhance the experience of using one of the company's flagship Pixel smartphones. Google Lens is further proof of Google's versatility. They are a company that has become proficient at adapting to the market.

As well as leading the charge in the development of many new technologies and innovations, Google are also experts at redefining and refining the market sectors they joined later in the game.

A few years ago, Google Glass gave the world a taste of what the future might look like, how augmented reality could be elevated above a gimmick, and provided users with a powerful means of exploring and learning about the world around them.

Google Lens builds on this premise, but rather than requiring users to purchase an expensive pair of smart glasses, the technology has been squeezed into a smartphone, making it available to a much wider audience. The app doesn't quite deliver on the many promises made when Google Glasses were revealed. However, it does provide a very solid foundation for Google to continue to develop and refine the technology which underpins those features.

Visual Searching

Currently, Google Lens can read text viewed through the Pixel camera, something that it does remarkably well - certainly better than any other current piece of tech. It can identify buildings and landmarks with startling, albeit not perfect, accuracy. It is even able to identify and provide more information about pieces of art and even movie posters. This method of performing what the company is calling ‘visual searches’ promises to revolutionise the way that we learn about the world around us.

The internet is a repository of all human knowledge, everything that we could ever want to know is held somewhere in its depths, the difficulty has always been in knowing where to go. With Google Lens, those things that we want to know but struggle to put into words are now searchable. The ability to identify objects automatically is potentially revolutionary as an augmentation to search engine technology.

The Future

This burgeoning technology has an almost endless array of exciting potential applications for the future. Making visual identifications automatically could soon allow us to identify plants and fungi using our phones, potentially saving many people from cases of accidental poisoning.

The technology could also be refined to allow patients to self-diagnose any illnesses or conditions which leave a visible mark on the body.

Visual search technology is an exciting innovation from a company so well-known for producing new technologies that have a revolutionary effect on the market. The possibilities opened up by Google Lens are almost endless.

Ben Maden

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