A question I get asked all the time is “what’s the future of search?” Everyone wants to know what’s coming next. I mostly tend to answer that search has become so ubiquitous that it’s becoming part of nearly everything we do and we probably won’t always recognize the future of search as “search”. Urban Spoon’s iPhone app that uses your geographic location and a quick shake to suggest a restaurant doesn’t require you to type anything at all and yet it’s a great restaurant search. Google Goggles lets you just point your phone at something (a landmark, a book cover…) and serves up great search results.
The other night, a friend and I were trying to figure out what a bright star in the sky was. How could we possibly do a search for that? Type a query like “what’s that really bright star in the middle of the sky if you’re facing, erm, I have no idea what direction we’re facing, and I don’t have to tilt my head up too high to see it and I’m 5′ 4″, so however high up that would be, and oh right, it’s January and I’m in California”? Turns out, we easily searched for it and found the right answer in seconds (it was Venus). He just pointed his iPhone to the sky.
Google has been investing in “what do these words mean that are in a different language” searches for a while (Google Translate, Google Goggles). Today, they’ve taken that one step further with their latest Google Translate iPhone app. You can just talk right into the phone and have the translation read back to you out loud.
What is the future of search? It’s your very own Babel Fish replacing frantic searches through a beat up translation dictionary when you’re in a small town in Estonia and need to find a bathroom.
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