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June 17, 2011 » Google can’t answer the question “Do I need stitches” but they’re getting close

By now, you may have been exposed to some form of reverse image search—TinEye and Google Goggles are probably the most popular right now. Currently, neither really benefits your health, but Google’s latest addition takes the next step toward patient empowerment.

TinEye is great if you want to know where an image is from or if you need a better version. You can upload an image and find where the hi res download is available. That is pretty neat, but it doesn’t help you if you are trying to learn about the content of the image itself.

Goggles is great when you’re on the go. It can currently identify famous landmarks, paintings, and even allow you to translate a sign through optical character recognition (OCR). Simply snap a picture and you immediately know what you’re looking at and why it is important.

This week, Google took it to the next level with a desktop version – Search by Image. It allows users to search places, art, and even animals by image instead of keywords. Users can search by uploading an image, dragging and dropping, or pasting the image URL into their search bar. It is also available as Chrome and Firefox extensions.

So now, if during your vacation planning you see a random picture of the perfect place to snorkel, you don’t have to ask everyone on message boards, travel agents, or scour images for hours. Simply drag the picture into your search bar and voila – you’re heading to Hawaii.

Hopefully, with increased awareness and usage of Goggles and Search by Image, Google will make good on their plans to beef up the capabilities beyond famous places, famous things, and OCR. They stated they plan to evolve it so that you can search by pictures of plants, cars, and pretty much anything.

Now, don’t get too worried. They aren’t using it for facial recognition, and think about how it could empower patients!

Imagine your son was just bit by a scorpion. What should you do? Is it poisonous?

Step 1: Take the little guy’s picture

Step 2: Drop the picture in the search bar

Step 3: Find out if an antivenom exists

Step 4: Start first aid and get him some Anascorp!

This could also help locate poison ivy or identify the cause of a rash. Even further, patients who may not remember why they take a certain medication or aren’t sure what it does could simply snap a picture of the pill, device, or packaging and be directed to the product site. That is, if Google recognizes the picture.

If you weren’t paying attention to the images on your website before, you might want to get started…

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