Gaga over Google Goggles!

With the launch of the new social media network Google+, it led me to muddle through other Google applications in their Google Mobile division. I stumbled upon Google Goggles. First thought that came to mind was Rocky the squirrel (from the cartoon Rockey and Bullwinkle) with his goggles on and his finger up saying “ah-ha”.

What is Google Goggles you ask?

The application allows you to take a picture with your mobile phone and it searches the web to show your results.  According to the Google Goggles’ support overview page, the best search queries are:  books/dvd’s, landmarks, barcodes/QR codes, logos, contact info, artwork, businesses, products and text. But not so good at animals, plants, cars, furniture and apparel.

Despite not being able to take a picture of a car and having Google Goggles tell me what make/model it is (that’s what the boyfriend is for, right?); the feature that sold me was the text search. I’m a big traveler at heart, and it has the ability to take a picture of a menu in a foreign language and have it translated into English for me – how awesome is that!? Definitely puts traveling to a whole new level.

Artwork recognition sounds pretty neat too. Go to a museum, take a picture of it and get endless history on it on the web instead of renting one of those silly audio tour guide headphones like these folks.

Google Goggles makes grabbing contact information a breeze. Take a picture of someone’s business card and voila, into your address book it goes. No more typing required!

There is definitely a limitation to this application (like any other) and that is you need a data plan on your mobile phone for this to work. Traveling with a data plan can get pretty pricey with roaming charges. Other limitations are venues (like museums) that do not allow pictures to be taken or perhaps lighting is too dark for a picture to be taken and flash is not allowed in the venue.

However, despite the limitations, technology has come a long way and Google Goggles is definitely in my “like” category.

Go Google Goggles! (Say that 3 times fast.)

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Keeping up with Technology ~IVR-ing it!

In the process of moving closer to the downtown core, I’ve decided to be proactive and get my address changed for snail mail before the end of the month instead of paying for a forwarding service.  Many address changes could be done online but a few I had to do the old fashioned way:  telecommunication!

Most companies use button activation, i.e. `press 1 for English`; while others have adopted an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) which is basically a voice recognition system where they ask “Tell me what you need help with” and you have to speak your response. I don’t know about you, but being in an open office environment – privacy and making phone calls do not run in the same sentence. I felt a bit foolish saying “address change” in a monotone voice instead of being able to press `1`.

This got me thinking about voice recognition software.  An interesting article came up about Google’s voice searching ability. Apparently the Google search speech recognition app has been on mobiles since Nov 2008! Where have I been!? Basically, instead of typing on a phone keypad (which sometimes poses a challenge) for a Google search, you just say it! Furthermore, the app gets integrated with iPhone’s built in GPS and shows results based on your location. Google’s voice search technology is actually being taken to the desktop computers/laptops but I’m not sure this will be as successful as the mobile. #1- there is no built-in mic on desktop computers,  #2 – sometimes what people search is just not `voice` appropriate!

I’ve also seen voice dial on mobile phones and speech recognition in a car in action.  Um.  So the question is – where else have you seen/used voice recognition!?