A Hands-On Tour: Google Goggles Visual Search

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Even just pointing the phone in a general direction will cause AR results to display. Looking out my office window through my phone, I saw a button that said "20" at the bottom of the screen. When I tapped it, a list of nearby businesses popped up, each with a clickable link containing contact details, reviews, and other information.

Google Goggles: The Big Picture

Right now, Google Goggles doesn't work well with food, cars, plants, or animals. But that's going to change. Developers say the app will soon be able to recognize plants by their leaves, even suggest chess moves by "seeing" an image of your current board.

"We are only scratching the surface of the visual search technology," Google's engineers promise.

If you're worried about privacy, Google Goggles gives you two options: You can discard all of your images as you go, or you can save them in a searchable history. Selecting the searchable history option makes the images available to Google, separate from any personal data, for the purpose of improving the service. Aside from that, Google indicates, the Goggles app retains your IP address and Google account details for five weeks in order to help "keep the service stable and secure."

The Google Goggles app is now available as a free download in the Android Market. You can see more of its features in action via Google's official Goggles video. There's also a help section set up on Google's mobile support site.

JR Raphael is co-founder of geek-humor site eSarcasm. You can keep up with him on Twitter: @jr_raphael.

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