Google Goggles as Social Networking App?

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-04-02 Print this article Print

Facial recognition is one of the most frequently requested Goggles features. But, as Nalawadi told eWEEK in an interview last month, Goggles requires several other improvements.

For example, Goggles needs to extend the ability to recognize 3D objects beyond landmarks, and fill out the long tail of searches in any specific product category.

Goggles also needs to get faster; some searches take several seconds as the request travels across 3G networks to Google's cloud and back across the networks to users' phones. Local caching in the smartphone app, similar to what Google has done with its Google Maps 5.0 for Android app, could help with this.

What no one is disputing through all of the he-said, she-said, is that Google has the technology to do this from acquiring Neven's company Neven Vision in 2005, and then grabbing last year.

Both companies featured facial recognition capabilities, but Google has resisted implementing the technology for fear of privacy concerns. The position proved wise; 2010 would see Google weather two colossal user privacy imbroglios.

In February 2010, Google launched its Buzz social conversation service, and exposed millions of users' Gmail contacts once they opted into the service. Users sued. Google just settled with the Federal Trade Commission.

In a far bigger deal, Google Street View collected 600GB of email, browser info and user password info from unsecured wireless networks across 30-plus countries. Google is still dealing with the fallout from this issue.

Facial recognition would certainly help Google's social networking prospects, ABI Research analyst Mark Beccue has told eWEEK. Imagine snapping a pic of your friend's face and then seeing their status updates from Facebook and Twitter. With facial recognition, Goggles could enable this, possibly as some sort of augmented reality overlay.

For all its caution, Google may want to step lively to this. Rumor has it Apple will be incorporating this sort of capability into its future iPhone, courtesy of its acquisition of Polar Rose last year.

Going forward, facial recognition will be a key feature in the mobile war Google and Apple are waging with one another. But facial recognition is not a separate app at Google and its launch is hardly imminent.



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