Google Visual Search and "Inside the Mind of Google"

During CNBC’s hour-long special, “ Inside the Mind of Google,” Google Product Manager Harmut Neven demoed a potential new product: Google Visual Search. With Google Visual Search on an Android phone, a searcher can simply use the smartphone to take a picture then search with that image. Google should be able to recognize the image and respond with relevant information.

Neven explained how this technology will be used: “Imagine you’re a tourist and you arrive at this place and you would like to know more about it, all you will have to do is take a shot of the Santa Monica pier sign and you see we recognized this as the Santa Monica pier.” From this point, Google could provide information about the Santa Monica pier’s history and attractions.

At this point, Google Visual Search has not passed Google’s testing and a release date was not shared. I’m curious about how this will work if and when Google Visual Search does go live. Will it work by searching for pages with similar images? If so, will information like content around the image, file titles, and image alt text make a difference? Will results be ordered by the value of the sites that have the images? I look forward to being able to speculate on these answers once Google Visual Search is launched, but think this is a further indication that sites should be cognizant of the images they offer and whether or not they are providing significant information about these images to the search engines.

In addition to showing this new product, “Inside the Mind of Google” showed the inside of the Googleplex, interviews with multiple Googlers, and a very basic overview of AdWords. The story also said that 95% of Google’s revenue is generated by AdWords.

There was no mention of SEO, but a significant amount of time was dedicated to the amount of information Google has available about users and the possible privacy implications. Watching this section, I remembered a short story from several years ago that I’m still a big fan of, Scroogled, and wanted to share it. Between our search history, Gmail, YouTube uploads and views, Reader, Docs, and many other products, Google does have access to a lot of information about its users, and we are all counting on Google to not be evil.

For anyone interested in watching “Inside the Mind of Google,” CNBC is running it again at the following times:
Saturday, December 5th 7p ET
Sunday, December 6th 10p ET
Thursday, December 10th 8p and 1a ET
Thursday, December 24th 4p and 8p ET
Friday, December 25th Midnight ET