Google Lens presents new ways to interact with the world

Interest by large tech firms suggests XR has staying power in changing the ways we interact with our surroundings.
28 May 2020

Google Lens was introduced at a product launch event on October 2017. Source: AFP

  • New features of Google Lens enable texts to be transported to digital interfaces
  • Immersive technologies are rapidly sought after by retailers
  • Burberry teamed up with Google to launch an AR shopping tool

The launch of IKEA Place has helped many homeowners select, visualize, and purchase the right furniture without having to move a physical piece of furniture. 

The app lets you “virtually place true-to-scale 3D models in your very own space. Combining the latest AR (augmented reality) technology and IKEA’s smart home solutions, you can experience IKEA like never before,” the company states.

Sweden’s furniture giant is just one of the many retailers now embracing this immersive technology. Customers are being treated to an experience of multi-sensory shopping, with AR, virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (XR) technologies being enlisted to transform their retail experience.

This technology, at least if investments by large tech firms are anything to go by, has staying power in changing the ways we interact with our surroundings using technology, and in bridging our online and offline experiences.

“The lines between online and offline are not only blurred but are increasingly being wiped away. AR is leading the charge to tear down the barrier once and for all by overlaying digital objects onto the real world,” Neil Hughes wrote previously for TechHQ.

That comment was based on Apple’s reported plans to introduce its own XR device in 2022. For now, Google is reasserting its interest in AR technology in product updates to Google Lens.

New features of Google Lens 

Google Lens is poised to enable us to interact with our physical surroundings with enhanced functions via smartphones.

Catering to our mobile-first society, Google Lens plans to work its magic with tools already baked into our smartphones, without the need for peripheral gadgets. The tech titan’s blog post narrates how Google Lens can be used, using the example of identifying an unknown flower with the click of the camera and search results presented.

Now, Google Lens is able to turn handwritten notes to digital copies without users having to retype them. According to Google’s tweet, users can select text with Lens, tap “copy to computer,” and paste it on another signed-in device with Chrome.

Additionally, the transfer of text from a physical format to a digital one presents new and exciting uses. For example, Google Lens can be used by foreign language learners at home, translating words into more than 100 languages, from Spanish to Chinese, just by pointing the camera at the text. Lens also expedites the search and learning of new concepts, with users able to quickly look up unfamiliar phrases or concepts with the image technology.

New features on Lens are moving their focus to physical text and transferring this into a digital format. Adding on to Google’s grasp in immersive technologies, this ability to transport texts between the physical and virtual world will place Google in the running to hold a leading position within extended reality technologies.

Recently, luxury fashion giant Burberry enlisted Google Search technology to launch a new AR shopping tool. The British company is taking product engagement to new heights by offering AR experience for selected Burberry products. When searching for Burberry items, customers can see AR versions of the product embedded in a real environment and scale against other real-life objects.  

Customers are being treated to more immersive ways to explore and interact with products, stimulating the in-store experience. This advancement is especially relevant for the current circumstances when physical stores are shut tight, and the reopening of retail will be gradual. Applications of immersive technology in retail will offer new avenues for brands to explore and implement.