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Mobile searching has just gotten way, way cooler with the new Google Goggles visual search tool for Android, bringing a high-tech twist to accessing information on the go.
I started out with something easy: a book. After opening the app, I followed the instructions and took a photo. Google Goggles started analyzing the image. Sure enough, seconds later, I had the results.
Just from seeing the book's cover, Google Goggles gave me the full name and links to compare prices or even preview the text. Below that, it returned regular search results for the title. Not too shabby.
Next up: art. Luckily, I had a book of Magritte paintings in my office. I flipped open to a random page and took a photo. Google Goggles got it.
How about something a bit more involved? I grabbed a nearby bag of chips to see if Google Goggles could grab the logo. Once again, no problems: The app saw that the chips were made by Lays and gave me a screen of info about the company.
The app worked equally well with a DVD: I photographed the cover of Swingers and received information about the movie, followed by pages of relevant Web results.
The Google gang says the app can detect and detail wine, so I figured it was worth a shot. This one took a couple of tries -- the first bottle I attempted didn't work -- but Goggles was able to pull up details about the second label I shot.
Google Goggles - not to be confused with Google Mail Goggles, the company's inebriated e-mailing preventer - lets you search from your cell phone simply by snapping a photo. Want more info on a product? Take its picture. Need info about a business? Photograph the storefront. Put simply, this thing packs some serious power, and its capabilities stretch far.
Google Goggles currently supports photo-based searching for (take a deep breath): books, DVDs, landmarks, logos, contact info, artwork, businesses, products, barcodes, and plain text.
Here's how it works: When you capture an image, Google breaks it down into object-based signatures. It then compares those signatures against every item it can find in its image database. Within seconds, it returns the results to you, ordered by rank. Some results are returned before you even snap a photo, too, thanks to seamless integration of GPS and compass functionality.
Major landmarks are well within Goggles' sights. I don't have one nearby, so I fired up my imagination, photographed a photo of the Eiffel Tower, and sat back to see what'd happen. Goggles figured it out and linked me to the landmark information.
Even an obscure product like a tub of protein powder seems to work without so much as a hiccup. Google Goggles matched the actual photo to an online image from a retailer's Web site, then gave me ample info about the stuff.