Google’s search is going visual in a big way

Google just held its annual I/O developers conference announcing the release of new hardware such as the affordable Google Pixel 3a. It also launched a new Nest-branded Home Hub with embedded camera – although this won’t be available to us for another few months.

Google isn’t really hardware orientated, through they still need to stay in the game to keep ahead of Microsoft’s Bing or the DuckDuckGo engine.

Text-based search may feel like a “solved problem” for Google. It’s actually something it constantly refines. This is at least to keep ahead of folks who try to “game” Google’s algorithm to ensure higher search visibility.

The search ranking besiness is only half of the picture, a there is also the issue of how information is presented to a worldwide audience. Google I/O confrence announced some smart new ways search results will be experiences.

The headline feature for search is the inclusion of Augmented Reality (AR) into search results. Google showed this off on stage with an Android phone searching for Great White Sharks. This allowed the user to get up close and personal with a Great White while surfing off the cost of Australia.

The way Google’s AR search would have it, you’d end up with a virtual Great White projected via your phone’s display instead. A good way to get a visual appreciation of a shark, with none of the risk. Google’s rolling out the new AR search over the coming months. If you’re on a compatible device, you should start to see AR results as an option — depending, of course, on whether anyone’s built an AR model of what you want.

Google is also making some significant visual changes to its Google Lens search system. Google Lens uses your phone’s camera and some pretty smart machine learning to give you contextual information about whatever it’s looking at.

All you need to do is point your smartphone at something like say the Sydney Opera House and you will get a history lesson on the structure. Or if you pointed it at the MCG, you will some some cricket info or even maybe the cricket scores if there was a match being played.

Google’s enhancing Lens by adding features like restaurant menu scans, so you can see images of popular dishes on a menu that Google recognizes.

This will be a very handy piece of technology and is predicted to become the norm in the coming decade as we see more and more AR technology being rolled out.