Google Lens – the next logical step for the smartphone camera

Google LensHere’s one of those bits of tech that you’re almost surprised doesn’t exist already. Just as Shazam tells you what a song is when you hear it and sends you to a buy link, and QR codes allow your phone camera to ‘read’ a URL, soon your smartphone will be able to tell you what it is you’re looking at, and give you some ideas for what to do next. 

With Google Lens, you just point your camera at whatever it is you want to know about and Google’s AI assistant will interpret it, and offer information and ideas for next steps. This article in Pocket Lint suggests some applications, my favourite of which is simply to point your phone camera at a wireless code to have the option of joining the network without the tedious business of keying it in. 

The marketing implications are enormous: imagine being the first retailer listed when someone takes a picture of a nice handbag they spot on a fellow-commuter’s arm, or a suggested local repair service if someone’s taking a picture of their damaged car. 

Couple this with the announcement from Amazon that Echo will soon have a camera and be able to offer fashion advice, and it seems the next Big Thing will be computers looking at us and our world and giving their recommendations on where we go next. Given where human thinking has brought us, that might not be such a bad idea.