Google Lens Turns Your Camera Into a Search Box

GOOGLE IS REMAKING itself as an AI company, a virtual assistant company, a

classroom-tools company, a VR company, and a gadget maker, but it’s still

primarily a search company.

Today at Google I/O, its annual gathering of developers, CEO Sundar Pichai announced a new product called Google Lens that amounts to an entirely new way of searching the internet: through your camera.

Lens is essentially image search in reverse: you take a picture, Google figures out what’s in it. This AI-powered computer vision has been around for some time, but Lens takes it much further.

If you take a photo of a restaurant, Lens can do more than just say “it’s a restaurant,” which you know, or “it’s called Golden Corral,” which you also know. It can automatically find you the hours, or call up the menu, or see if there’s a table open tonight.

Lens is a big turn for Google. It’ll make searching the internet as fast, and natural, as looking around. It fuses the real and digital worlds in fun and useful ways. And, not to get ahead of ourselves here, it’d be a pretty great augmented-reality feature for Google Glass 2.0.