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Picture 35Typing in search queries is so passe. Two developments from Google this month are pointing the way to a much more visual and location-centric style of search.

For starters, the company said today that it began sending out two-dimensional barcodes to more than 100,000 local businesses in the U.S. This will enable mobile phone users to snap a picture of the barcode (known as a QR code and pictured to the right) and trigger a search for the local business. Right now, the capabilities for the program are fairly basic — you can find reviews of the place, get a coupon if the business is offering one or mark the business for remembering later.

On top of owning a smartphone, a user will need to have an app that can read QR codes like the $1.99 QuickMark app for iPhones or the Barcode Scanner app for Android-based phones. Google also recommended BeeTagg and NeoReader.


The second and more distant development is a product Google is testing called Goggles. You can take a photo of a place and query Google for related information. If this were accurate, it could boost the volume of search queries dramatically. It might even make two-dimensional barcodes obsolete if you could combine accurate logo recognition and GPS coordinates to identify a business. Unfortuantely, that’s a bit far off. Google hasn’t launched it publicly although they did talk about it in a CNBC special this month embedded below. Update: Google actually launched Goggles today in labs! We’ll keep you updated with some forthcoming posts.


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