Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Visual and Audio Search Engines

Popgadget reminded me of an idea I looked into a while ago. If you take the search engine and put an image recognition wrapper around it, could you create something which tells you what real world images are of? I call it a Visual Search Engine. Clearly this works in niche applications such as biometrics and the manufacturing industry, but what about something with as broad appeal as Google? Unfortunately for my bank manager, my research showed that someone has this seriously in hand, but Popgadget has showed how a UK designer called Callum Peden has added a new dimension to this- a Google Device. You'd have to question why you wouldn't just use a phone with in-built camera, but I'm intrigued by the notion of Google moving into appliances and devices. Will it happen one day?

This is possibly also an opportunity to mention an Audio Search Engine called Shazam I was made aware of several years ago and, to this day, remains the mainstay of my party piece repertoire. Basically, forget their website for a moment and engage your mind's eye. Imagine, when you want to know the name of some music you're listening to, just dialling 2580 (down the centre of your phone) in the UK and holding your phone to the music... wait a few seconds and a text message arrives with the artist and title. Marvellous eh? Yup, and this actually exists... right now. It's one of technology's best kept secrets (which doesn't say much for their marketing).

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