You’ve seen that painting before but can’t remember: Is it Manet or Monet? Once again, when it comes to the searchable world, Google wants to supply the answer.
The team behind Google Goggles, the smartphone application that among other things lets users take a photograph of a bottle of wine to find out whether it's worth $10 or $100, has partnered with the Getty Museum to provide information on hundreds of paintings from its permanent collection.
Google Goggles is at base a visual search engine that is activated not by typing in key phrases but by taking a picture on your smartphone of the object (be it a wine bottle label or book or historic landmark) in question. They call it a “visual query.” Now Getty visitors using the program can take pictures of paintings that interest them to bring up links to information, starting with content prepared by the museum.
More effective with two than three dimensions, Google Goggles already recognizes some photographs and paintings from other museums—including world-famous artworks the database has picked up by crawling the Internet. But this is the first partnership by which a museum has provided images and prepared content for this specific use. The Getty has supplied information on the artist and artwork for about 300 paintings. About half of those have audio snippets as well.
Google Goggles product manager Shailesh Nalawadi, whose engineering team is based in the technology giant's Santa Monica office, says they wanted to start local. "We always had the museum use-case in mind," he says, "and because the engineering team is here in Los Angeles, we wanted to do it with an L.A. institution."