Unless you’ve been sleeping under a pile of old Commodore 64s, you’ve heard about the Google Goggle announcement. The service allows you to use pictures to search the web. The service is amazing in its own right. Check out the videos if you haven’t seen them already.
Google Goggles opens up huge possibilities for augmented reality. One of the challenges of AR is for the computer to understand the world around it in a realistic manner. GPS and compasses only tell one tiny part of the story. If the only thing you know about the world is the exact location you’re in and which direction you’re facing, then you really can’t accomplish much.
Object recognition (which for Goggles includes facial recognition, but they’re not allowing individuals to be accessed until privacy issues are figured out) allows our phones to mimics how the brain works in the seeing the world around it (or the Reality Recognition if you’re familiar with my AR Scale.) This doesn’t mean that Google has mind-mapped our mental processes to make the service work. What it means is that Goggles allow for computers to start doing what our brain is doing–seeing the world around it.
Google Goggles Will Make These Eight Things (and More) Possible:
1 – Cataloging your refrigerator and pantry so you can cross-reference at the store and get menu ideas. Maybe in five years your fridge will have a camera inside of it to do it real-time.
2 – Noah Zerkin on twitter pointed out pretty quickly that “If they can recognize scene elements, and they also provide GPS/inertial/mag-based overlay, how long before using surroundings to fix POV?” This will make immersive augmented reality games and services possible.
3 – Run your TiVo through it so it can edit out the commercials.
4 – Wilderness survival tool that lets you know if its safe to eat the purple berries (when the plant picture search is added and assuming you have cell phone coverage!)
5 – Scan your strange garage sale items to find out what they go for on Ebay (Who actually owns purple zebra lamps?)
6 – Warehouses or stores can auto-count items as they are removed from the shelves with a bank of cameras so they can have real-time inventory and also know which items were “almost” sold.
7 – Genealogists can use old family pictures as a search criteria to find other long lost family branches.
8 – Trend spotters could use live camera feeds to understand usage patterns of products.
These do require access to Goggles database or at least a way to port through Goggles (like using Twitter for real-time search) and some might also require usable HMDs to make it worth using, but the possibilities are exponential. While none of these things are going to happen overnight, Google Goggles sure has made things a lot more interesting (especially if they allow facial recognition.)