Google search getting eyes and ears

Google search is getting eyes and ears, moving beyond typed key words to let people scour the Internet with mobile telephone cameras or spoken words in multiple languages.

Google on Monday unveiled "Goggles" software that lets people search online using pictures taken with cameras in mobile phones based on its Android operating system.

"When you take a mobile phone camera and connect it to the Internet, it becomes an eye," Google mobile search vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra said while demonstrating Goggles in Mountain View, California.

"Google Goggles lets you take a picture of an item and use the picture as the query."

An experimental version of Goggles will be available for people at Google Labs website. Goggles already recognizes books, wine labels, CD covers, landmarks and more, according to Gundotra.

He demonstrated by taking a picture of a wine bottle label with a smart phone and almost instantly getting reviews, pictures and other Internet data about the vintage in a Google search results Web page.

"It is our goal to visually identify any image," Gundotra said.

"It is in Google Labs because of the nascent nature of computer vision. In the future, you will be able to point (a camera phone) and we will be able to treat it as a mouse pointer for the real world."

Google on Monday also added Japanese to a voice-based search service first rolled out about a year ago.

People can now speak Google search subjects into smart phones in English, Mandarin, or Japanese.

"In addition to voice search, Google has huge investments in translation," Gundotra said. "Our goal at Google is nothing less than being able to search in all major languages of the world."

The California Internet colossus is aiming to deliver a translation service to mobile telephones some time in 2010, according to Gundotra.

People will be able to speak into a mobile telephone to have sentences translated into other languages and delivered back quickly in text and audio forms, Gundotra said while demonstrating an early version of the service.

He also showed a "near me now" feature that uses global positioning capabilities in Android-based smart phones to customize map results to show shops, attractions, restaurants or other offerings that are in easy reach.

"In the future, there will be many different ways of searching," said Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience.

"We really foresee a world where you can search and find your answer where ever it exists and whatever language it is in."

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