Sunday, August 01, 2010

Google Goggles – mind goggling application

We’re reaching a tipping point in mobile technology where the apps on your phone are better than the apps on your computer. One knockout application (killer apps are passe), and the one with massive potential in education and training, is Google Goggles. It’s a visual search tool on your phone. No more typing or voicing in your request – just point and click.

Point your camera at any object in the real world; a building, landmark, object, painting, business card, shop, food, car, plant, animal etc. Google will shoot back an identification, explanation or further details and links.

Google Goggles and learning

Let’s take this one step further. Imagine a world where, whenever you’re stuck on a problem, a tricky maths problem, balancing a chemical equation, identifying a tree from its leaves, translating an awkward word or phrase in a Shakespeare play, translating a word or phrase from another language, getting a word for an object in a foreign language, the painter of a painting. In the future this applications has the potential to provide help whenever there is something in the real or represented world that you can point to. This is the phone as performance support.

It’s a window into a future where performance support will be linked to just pointing your phone. Want to know what chess move to make – point and click. Want to know where to plant that plant you’ve just bought, how to repair that hole in your wall, set up that electronic device you’ve just bought? Point and click.

Android as teacher

The next level is not the provision of learning experiences directly related to that object. Rather than provide the direct answer or short solution, there may be a mode where you get tutored support or suggestions on how to get the right answer. The phone as a supportive teacher.

It's an application that has so many uses for both learner and teacher.

Android v Apple

Apple may have won the immediate battle but Android will win the war. Android’s an operating system not a proprietary device. It opens up the market and opportunities, not close them down. This is good for education and learning. The projections for iPhone growth are good, but for the Android they’re better. It’s that old adage about being second in a market being better. The development community is huge and code is written in Java. And with App Inventor, the Android market opens up application development to a much wider community that serious coders.


This is a related augmented reality app that provides layers of useful information over any real scene you point your phone at. Layar is useful for details about locations as well as information on nearest tube stations and so on.


I'm working on an app called Beer Goggles - you take a photo of yourself or anyone you know. It first makes them a little thinner, then younger, then more physically attractive with every new snap.

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Blogger Dick Moore said...

Could not agree more Donald, the aggregation of all this capability in something that we will carry around in our pockets opens up something akin to the hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy.

The android translate and speech recognition has improved out of all recognition in the last 12 months, combined with image recognition that includes bar codes combine to make this the fifth generation of computing devices (See the Morgan Stanley report on mobile internet at

Having used Android and iPhone you are spot on I think with Android winning the war. Apple have a teriffic grip on the dopwnstream eco-system (music, apps etc) but Androids upstream eco-system (integration with cloud services, gmail, calendar and an increasingly open and sophisticated market place together with an open source operating system gives them the power of the market.

As for its application in learning, our children will navigate a physical world that will be knowledge rich.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Thanks Dick. The downstream/upstream comparison is interesting. Apple only as good as their next device - Google building for long-term future.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Clive Shepherd said...

But Donald, you don't own a mobile phone - remember?

3:33 PM  
Blogger Dick Moore said...

This is a view ;)
18+ rating on this link

4:08 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Clive: Tis true - I borrow from the extensive selection of discarded phones that my two sons bequeath to me.
Dick: Brilliant video!

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Nico Czinczoll said...

Donald, thank you for sharing this. Yes, I can see the application in our industry. It could help in anything from learning how to operate equipment, reviewing and maintaining equipment, all the way to data interpretation. And all of this paired with social networking in the background when questions do come up.

Augmented reality: Sometimes it feels like science fiction is coming alive.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Norman Lamont said...

I'm working on one that synthesises ricin from the sweat on your fingers and your earwax, causing death in a few days. A killer app, don't you think?

(PS to MI5 - this is humour.)

12:21 PM  
Blogger Niall Watts said...

Presumably Goggles could be used to identify people too. Spot someone walking down the street - Goggle them to get their name etc. Facebook or similar could be the back end - matching the person to their details. Scary!

On the plus side, yes educational potential is enormous, as you say, particularly if/when Android can move from being the 'sage on the stage' to the 'guide on the side'

10:33 AM  

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