Typing things into boxes is so 20th Century: as Google demonstrated yesterday, the future means waving your mobile about.
Google Goggles uses your camera as an input device, and while it's still relatively new technology the results are already impressive. But that's nothing compared to what Google Goggles will do when it grows up.
1. It'll be brilliant for bargains
Many high street shops' profits are based on one thing: keeping you in the dark. Google is already in discussions with enormous US retailers about offering live stock checking, so in the not too distant future you'll be able to point your phone at a product and not just find it cheaper, but find a nearby outlet that has it in stock.
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2. It'll clean up greasy spoons
Food outlets with appalling hygiene often get away with it for one simple reason: food poisoning isn't instant, so the people they kill don't tend to die on the premises. Google Goggles will change that, making it easy to see the appalled reviews and local newspaper investigations into the Kebab Shop of Doom.
3. It'll make everybody rude
No more handshakes, asking what somebody does or saying "so, how do you know Julie?" In the future we'll whip out our phones and shove them in strangers' faces to find out what they do on Facebook and whether they're worth talking to. And they won't mind, because they'll be doing exactly the same to us.
4. It'll be magic in museums
Who needs a tour guide when your phone knows more about everything than a single human brain could ever store?
5. It'll make losing your mobile like losing your mind
If you think you're reliant on your mobile now, wait until it's doing pretty much everything but walking for you. Losing a mobile today is a pain; losing it in a Google Goggles world would be catastrophic.
6. It'll make us multilingual
Combining image search and translation is perfectly feasible, and it's easy to imagine Google Goggles translating menus or anything else that doesn't happen to be in your mother tongue.
7. It'll make the main street coupon-tastic
If Google Goggles becomes a big deal then everything from fast food outlets to department stores will want to tempt passers-by into their premises - and the best way to do that is with time-limited special offers.
8. It'll know you better than you know yourself
Google is all about personalisation and context, so don't expect indiscriminate ad-blasting when you're walking down the street: you'll get subtly tailored adverts urging you to buy stuff that goes with the things you've already bought.
9. It'll be top for tourists
Visual search really comes into its own when you haven't the foggiest where you are, where your hotel is, where the nearest cash machine is or how you're supposed to communicate with the locals - which means it'll be really handy for tourists, or drunks.
10. It'll be harnessed by The Man to create an Orwellian people tracking system that makes the stuff in Minority Report look like Lego
When politicians realise that everyone's toting a face-recognising smartphone, how long before Britain's Most Wanted is beamed to our mobiles and our cameras recruited to fight the War on Terror? About ten minutes, we reckon.
Liked this? Then check out Is there anything on the planet Google doesn't want for dinner?
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