Google Unveils ‘Google Lens’ Augmented Reality Mobile Tool

May 17, 2017 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai announced Google Lens, an augmented reality (AR) service for mobile devices that was designed as a versatile tool for facilitating a wide variety of everyday tasks, from shopping and identifying flowers to navigating one’s surroundings, editing photos, and connecting to Wi-Fi networks. The product is meant to be integrated into the Google Assistant and a number of other services, Pichai said while speaking at this year’s Google I/O 2017 Keynote, adding that the Mountain View-based tech giant will reveal more details about Google Lens soon.

The user interface of Google Lens boasts a rather minimalist design that’s unencumbered by massive buttons and similar elements. The tool uses the rear camera of a smartphone to perform visual searches and simply relays information based on the objects that it detects. Its results are presented in the form of AR pop-up cards that appear on the screen and can be interacted with, as shown in the GIF below. Essentially, Google Lens is as simple to use as pointing your smartphone at an object, Pichai said, revealing some useful applications of the Alphabet-owned company’s latest tool. Among other things, Google Lens can be used for quickly connecting to a Wi-Fi network by scanning a router label that contains a lengthy password or can help identify flora and addresses of specific shops and restaurants. The tool is even capable of editing images and was shown at Google I/O 2017 performing a highly advanced combination of healing and clone stamping, though it remains to be seen how its image editing capabilities will hold up in practice.

As a visual search tool, Google Lens can be seen as an extension of Google Goggles, a mobile tool that the company launched in 2010 which was capable of analyzing barcodes and QR codes, as well as some other objects like famous works of art. A similar technology was previously implemented into the Google Glass and will now be making its way to the Google Assistant and Google Photos in the near future, Pichai said. An update on the availability of Google Lens is expected to follow soon.