Google unveiled new features for its signature search tools on Monday, including an ability to search by sight, a mobile translator and a real-time search of more than 1 billion new social media pages created every day.
Google executives showed off the upgrades at an annual company event called Searchology.
The search engine giant said it was working to tie its search service more closely to cellphones. It showed off a new search option called Google Goggles that allows users to submit pictures rather than key words as queries, which would allow for identification of images taken via cellphones.
"It is our goal to be able to identify any image," said Google's vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra. "It represents our earliest efforts in the field of computer vision. You can take a picture of an item, use that picture of whatever you take as the
Gundotra said the company has the capability of integrating facial recognition into the technology but was delaying the implementation while it considered the privacy implications.
"For this product, we made the decision not to do facial recognition," Gundotra said. "We still want to work on the issues of user opt-in and control. We have the technology to do the underlying face recognition, but we decided to delay that until safeguards are in place."
Future search results would feature the company's "near me now" technology that will prioritize location-based items, he said.
Gundotra also showed off the search engine's ability to translate a spoken phrase from English to Spanish using a mobile phone. The translator feature will become available early next year and Google will rapidly expand the number of languages it can use, Gundotra said.
"Our goal at Google is nothing less than being able to support all the major languages of the world," he said.
The real time search technology is a product of partnerships announced Monday with Facebook and MySpace. Google already had an agreement with microblogging site Twitter, and said that the new search would be rolled out worldwide in the coming days.