Belfast Telegraph

Google Lens: Tech giant unveils tool to let cameras identify what they see

Google has announced a new tool that can provide information about objects when users point their phone camera at them.

Google Lens uses image recognition software and artificial intelligence to answer queries based on photos.

The tech giant said it will first be added to its smart virtual helper, Google Assistant.

With Lens, Assistant will able to identify flowers or artwork, as well as complete image-based tasks such as connecting to wifi networks when users take a photo of the password information on a router.

The new technology was previewed at Google's developer conference I/O, which began on Wednesday.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said technology is moving to an "AI-first world", and the company is embracing it.

The tech giant also announced that Google Assistant is now available on the iPhone for the first time.

In addition, it said its Google Home smart speaker will soon be able to make voice calls for the first time.

Initially only available in the US and Canada, users will be able to link their contact book with the speaker and make free calls over their internet connection.

Music streaming services Spotify and Deezer are also to be added to the smart home hub, Google said.

Google Home was launched in the UK in March and is a rival to the Amazon Echo, which uses its own voice-based assistant, Alexa, to answer questions and help with tasks.

New "visual responses" were also announced by Google which enable users to get the answers they receive from Home shown on a screen.

For example, users can ask to see their schedule or the weather and it will appear on a connected TV.

This feature will use Google's existing Chromecast streaming device which plugs into a TV and enables users to send content from mobile devices and laptops to the screen.

Google also announced plans for new indoor mapping software called visual positioning service (VPS).

The internet giant said it can be used to get directions inside shops to help users find items they are looking for.

A new range of virtual reality devices were also announced by the firm.

Google said it was working with a range of partners to create new, standalone VR headsets that did not require a computer, cables or a connection to a smartphone in order to function.

HTC, makers of the high-end Vive headset which launched last year, were confirmed as one of the companies working on new headsets.

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