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January 11, 2011

Goggle Goggles Offers Quick Mobile Barcode Scanning

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

Google (News - Alert) on Monday launched the most recent iteration of its innovative camera-based visual search app, known as Goggles. The upgraded application features faster barcode scanning, print advertisement recognition capabilities and a mobile answer key for the world's most difficult newspaper puzzles.

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First introduced for Android (News - Alert) phones about a year ago, Google Goggles is a mobile client that allows users to take pictures of products, barcodes and advertisements and immediately obtain search results based on the image. When combined with the company's Translation app, Goggles enables users who are traveling outside of their native country to take snapshots of street signs, restaurant menus and various documents and have the words translated into whatever language they prefer.

The most recent version of the application comes loaded with a couple of really cool features, including the ability to take photos of any print ad appearing in a major publication and receive Google search results based on the product and the company that manufacturers it. The feature is an extension of Google's recent marketing experiment, which was only able to offer information on specific advertisements and returned merely a single link, not a full list of search results. Goggles version 1.3 can pick up information on nearly every ad published since August of last year.

Furthermore, the newest iteration of Goggles for Android is capable of scanning a product's barcode and sending back information almost immediately. To quickly compare prices, check in-store availability and research an item while shopping offline, all users need to do is wave their phone over the product's barcode.

Finally, the update provides users with the ability to solve a Sodoku puzzle with just a click of a button. Smartphone devices that are equipped with the mobile app can recognize any of the Japanese puzzles and immediately tell a user where they made a mistake and how to correct it.

"So if you ever get stuck, take a clear picture of the entire puzzle with Goggles and we will tell you the correct solution," Leon Palm and Jiayong Zhang, two Google software engineers, wrote in a recent blog post.

Check out this YouTube (News - Alert) video to see how Goggles 1.3 defeated reigning Sodoku champ Tammy McLeod in a one-on-one battle.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard

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