Why I fell in love with Google Lens (and you retailers should, too)

July 1 2018 - 5 min read
Nadav Raviv


Visual search was (re)born in November 2017. Pinterest Lens launched in US and declared a new era in search (read launch post here) But this app didn't change our shopping behavior. But this was the first drop of Rain of visual search innovations/evolution which started coming “down”:
March 2018. Google photos for iOS adds Google Lens.
May 2018. Google Lens rolling out to Google Assistant
June 2018. Google Lens is launched as a standalone app.
Microsoft hurry to launch same “visual search” app in Bing
July 2018. Google Lens is getting inside Pixel Camera app


Today, Lens Android app got  more than 1M installs  (in 1 month) which is not much for mega brand like Google but now that they adding Lens to any Google camera… we need to talk. About Lens.

Our agenda for today

  • What is Google Lens.
  • Why we need to talk about it.
  • How our life would be with Lens.
  • Why retailers should “taste” it today
  • And how retailers could use it in the future
  • Which future features would you add to lens?

What is Lens. Lens is an app that save you the typing on search. It’s Alexa without you need to speak, just tap on the app and your camera does the search for you: no need to click. It’s saves you even that.
Anything the camera sees, Google find what’s relevant to you. The camera sees a tree? It tells you the name of it. Focus the app on your friend’s sandal and Google helps you find similar sandals on the web so you can shop it in a click! Point it to a famous building (Eiffel tower for example) and Google will give you all you need to know, just like you just typed it in google search engine.

And the didn’t stopped there. Google translate inside, so you can point the app to your french menu and translate a word in the menu - without typing it on Google Translate. And now you can even copy paste it to your Whatsapp!

I dived into the app and found more treasure feature you all can use: Scan a business card and the app saves you the typing and automatically makes it a contact on your phone with email & phone number already typed! Or take a picture of a logo of a billboard on the tube… and the app finds you the Instagram profile , ready for you to become a IG follower in one tap!

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From Microsoft App video (30 sec Video)

Why we all need Google Lens.

Just like Alexa and siri and Google home (now got to be the leader in the smart speaker market), More and more new ways save us the users the effort of.. Typing. If you save typing by speaking, now Google Lens save you even that! Less than a sec from the visual to the results (in case of comparing to smart speakers, Visual search give not just one result as the speakers do)

Why it’s important to us.
Because just like smart speaker, this is will become our new addiction! Just like voice search become 20% of global search . 13% of all households in the United States owned a smart speaker in 2017. That number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022. So the visual search is here to stay and storm!

How our life would be with Lens.
So how the future will be with visual search? i think this experiment will show you exactly that.
You see this brochure?  I picked it up from ICC Birmingham center. I loved that there’s no URL there.

IMG_20180630_085554.jpg

So i took Google Lens to a test drive to challenge the app if it will me as an user to find the site of the shop. And oh boy… look what the Google dragged it.  Google find our the site, phone, directions, etc.

Screenshot_20180701-183318.png

So now you can understand that the world in 2020 won't need any WWW url or site. Open Lens and the buffett of information is in your fingertips ready for your decision where you choose to go next. Funny that 2020 is in Birmingham :-)

Why retailers should “taste” it today
Retailers can be the first ones to enjoy the benefits of using this tool (rolling out in Google next OS?) as a QR code with the code. When we can shop in a sec the dress we see in a window shopping (if the store is closed) or joining brand’s Instagram in 2 clicks. Consumers will be even MORE impulse shopping! When 78% of Brits have fallen prey to impulsive online shopping, imagen what will happen when the impulse shopping will reach the street, when you can “impulse shopping” the waitress’s bracelet!

And how retailers could use it in the future
When everything is for sale in the real world (another step forward  towards online and offline merge to one line) and everything had “data inside”, visual become more branded. Logo become your portal to fb/IG/Twitter channel.

Which future features would you add to lens?
I can try to answer that but why not YOU answer that? Write in the comments below what you think you want to add to Google Lens that we can all enjoy :-)  Enjoy the frictionless future - today!

nadav ravivComment