Google Lens Gives Glimpse to Contextual Commerce

Google Lens will allow users to gain insight from their surroundings "in a meaningful way"

Google Lens represents the next step in customer-first commerce with augmented reality from a smartphone camera. 

Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the stage at the I/O developer conference to unveil a new development in augmented reality: Google Lens. Point your smartphone at an object and Google will help you identify it right from your screen.

“[Google Lens] can understand what you are looking at and help you take action based on that information.” -Sundar Pichai, Google CEO

Google Lens will help consumers make informed decisions about the world around them, such as choosing a restaurant via reviews. Google Lens represents the next step in contextual commerce.

Google Lens uses the camera on your smartphone to launch actionable insight about the world around you (video stills via Engadget).

As the world’s leading search company, the tech giant aims to tap into its trove of data for actionable insight. Google Lens combines computer vision with AI technology to discern information about the world around you “in a meaningful way”.

“Google was built to understand text and webpages. We’re beginning to understand images and videos,” said Pichai at Google’s I/O developer conference. “The fact that computers can understand images and videos has profound implications for our core mission.”

The first example via demo video showed how Google Lens can help shed light on your surroundings. One scan identified the type of flower in view—“great for someone like me with allergies”, Pichai joked.

The next example, met with celebratory applause, showed how Google Lens can connect you to wi-fi in one step. Simply point the lens at the sticker on a router and you can choose to connect automatically.

“We can automatically do the hard work for you” -Sundar Pichai, Google CEO

Hungry for more? A third example still showed how Google, “know[ing] where you are”, can serve up restaurant recommendations. Scan a storefront with your phone, and Google Lens will pull up reviews and friends who’ve visited to guide your decision.

Looking Forward with Google Lens

Google Lens represents the next step in commerce projected by PayPal’s Jill Rose: contextual commerce. Contextual commerce enables consumers to get what they want, when they want it, with the least amount of friction possible to get it.

Google Assistant and AmazonEcho, for instance, empower consumers to shop or perform an action using only one’s voice. Google Lens enables another step in this direction—without even saying one word.

“By 2021, every single transaction is going to have a digital component. Every single thing that you do, you’re going to look up on your phone first.” -Jon Reily, VP of Commerce Strategy, SapientRazorfish

So what does this mean for your business? Imagine the possibilities:

  • With just one scan, buyers can automatically reorder in bulk
  • A customer can scan your item in-store to find a variation online or nearby
  • Referrals to your company via relevant (or even competitor) product

Of course, new integrations and functionality will have to exist to enable these actions. But with quicker, easier access to goods and services than ever before, the future of commerce is fast approaching.

Google Lens: One Last Glance

Google Lens is not the company’s first attempt to harness augmented reality (Google Glass. Remember that?). And though it’s too soon to tell how wide Lens will truly spread, it does give a look into the future of customer-first commerce.

Meanwhile, we’ll just stick to scanning our thumbprint to get what we need stat. 

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