Google Lens Will Bring Vision-Based Object Identification to Your Phone

Posted on May 18, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile with 15 Comments

Google Lens Will Bring Vision-Based Object Identification to Your Phone

Google this week introduced a new set of Google Lens technologies that can visually identify objects in the real world.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained during this week’s I/O keynote how the firm has made major strides in computer vision technology, and that these advances would impact a variety of its products and services. Google Photos is an obvious example, and this app will soon be able to remove unwanted elements in photos in a way that requires experience with powerful tools like Photoshop.

But as impressive, Google has also announced a new “initiative” called Google Lens. Yes, I know this sounds like Office Lens at first, both because of the name and its vision-based functionality. But Google Lens is actually a lot more like Samsung’s Bixby Vision, and provides general purpose visual recognition. (It’s also sort of a successor to Google Goggles.)

“Google Lens is a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take action based on that information,” Pichai explained. “We’ll ship it first in Google Assistant and Photos, and it will come to other products.”

In a demo, Pichai showed how Lens might work: You point your phone’s camera at an object, and Google Lens will tell you what it is. In the demo, he used a flower, and Google Assistant explained what kind of flower it was. But another demo got an even bigger cheer: You can point the camera at the sign-in information on the back of a wireless router and Google Assistant will recognize the SSID and password and then actually sign the device into the network.

More impressive to me is Google Lens’s ability to identify locations like stores out in the world: You will be able to point your phone at a store or other location and a Google Maps card for that location will pop-up, letting you learn more instantly.

Google Lens capabilities will be added to Assistant and Home “in the coming months,” Google says.

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Google Lens Will Bring Vision-Based Object Identification to Your Phone”

  1. Waethorn

    This sounds an awful lot like a rebrand of Google Goggles.

  2. Demileto

    "Google Googles"? LOL, they seriously named that one of their products? ?

  3. George Rae

    Not hot dog.

  4. gregsedwards

    Silicon Valley fans will get this:

  5. SvenJ

    Anyone remember Bing Vision? Early implementation of the same thing. I could point my phone camera at a book, DVD, assorted other stuff and Bing would recognize it and provide option of what to do, look up more info, buy it from Amazon, etc. As usual, MS was out ahead, and stopped to take a break while everyone else ran by. There should still be a little Bing Vision eye next to the music recognition note when you open Bing.

  6. Chris Lindloff

    Things like this, Google Home, Google Assistant, Cortona, Siri and Alexa are years from being really useful and used by many. All of them are just two slow and not intuitive. I can type my questions faster in most cases.


    This is not to say they are bad or not fun/cool new tech. However I just don't use them after playing with them. The only one I regularly use is my echo for Music as I have Amazon Music Unlimited.

  7. chrisrut

    OK, well then, wow.

  8. skane2600

    Hasn't Google had object identification for a number of years? As I recall it was quite hit and miss.

  9. Athena Azuraea

    "But another demo got an even bigger cheer: You can point the camera at the sign-in information on the back of a wireless router and Google Assistant will recognize the SSID and password and then actually sign the device into the network."


    If that works, then you've got a problem. Lesson nr 1 when purchasing a router: Change the default password.