Search-giant Google updated its Goggles app on Monday to include better note-taking capabilities, search history, and better business card recognition as machine-vision becomes more useful.
The app, available for Android users, represents Google's move into visual search as it augments its revenue streams and attempts to provide better services for consumers, while making better conduits for advertisers to reach them.
The app lets Android based smartphone users take pictures of labels, barcodes, real-world items, and other objects and uploads to Google for interpretation and explanation. For instance, a photo of a landmark would return the name and other relevant information.
The picture is sent to Google servers and results are sent back, allowing relatively non-powerful smartphones to benefit from virtually unlimited data-processing in Google's cloud.
It also benefits from a form of crowd-sourcing, letting users suggest better results that Google then aggregates and considers for future results.
You can then select the relevant part of the image and submit a tag, Jacob Smullyan, a software engineer for Google, said in a blog post. Tags will be used to improve recognition in object categories where Goggles already provides some results, like artwork or wine bottles.
The service will face competition from arch-rival Microsoft, as the software company plans to roll out similar services for its Windows-based handsets.
Microsoft engineers have told the development community that Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 will add Bing Vision, a Google Goggles-like function baked right into the OS, later this year.
The Redmond-Wash. company demoed the predecessor to the technology during the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, which allows much of the same functionality, but calls on the Bing backbone for results. It's expected later this year.
Apple, with tis iOS hasn't debuted anything to date, but analyst speculation during most of Q1 suggests the company will unveil a massive cloud solution to coincide with its iPhone 5 and new iOS 5, giving it infrastructure to do similar things.