Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) wrapped up its Google I/O 2017 conference this week and there was no shortage of product updates. Android O, new Google Home features and Google Assistant on Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, to name a few. One of the biggest things to come out of the week, though, is the company’s determination to take over your smartphone camera. Artificial intelligence is making Google Photos smarter that ever, while AI and your smartphone’s camera combine for Google Lens, a new feature that lets Google Assistant analyze what it sees through that camera.
Introduced during the Google I/O 2017 keynote, Google Lens was described as a “set of vision-based computing capabilities.” Which is a rather dry way of saying the company is applying its advanced AI technology to your smartphone camera and integrating the results with Google Assistant.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) introduced its Bixby personal assistant with the Galaxy S8. One of Bixby’s features is the ability to identify objects such as landmarks and objects that are viewed through the smartphone’s camera. Remember Amazon.com, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Fire Phone? It came with a Firefly feature that let users point the camera at a product, identify it, then buy it on Amazon.
With Google Lens applying artificial intelligence to a smartphone’s camera, GOOGL isn’t breaking new ground.
Yet it’s still one of the most exciting things to come out of Google I/O. Why? Because Google’s application of AI and integration with Google Assistant means Google Lens goes far beyond simply identifying what your camera sees. Point your smartphone at a restaurant and with Google Lens at work, Google Assistant not only identifies the restaurant, but offers up details about it, including ratings. In one demonstration, pointing the camera at a router’s login credentials triggered Google Assistant to automatically log the smartphone in to that Wi-Fi network. And in the photo example, pointing your camera at a billboard identifies a band, the date of a concert and suggests actions like adding the date to your calendar and buying tickets.
In other words, Google Lens has the potential to go far beyond previous attempts to combine a smartphone camera and AI, making the leap from identifying objects to contextually interacting with them.
Google Photos might just be the company’s fastest growing product. At Google I/O 2017, it was announced that the user base has now grown to over 500 million people. They upload 1.2 billion photos and videos every day.