Why Google's Shazam-like patent has the potential to transform search


Why Google's Shazam-like patent has the potential to transform search

Michael Thomson

Google recently filed a patent that on first glance seems remarkably similar to Shazam. But rather than identifying music, Google will "listen" to the environment around you to answer questions like "who's in this TV programme?" or "who directed this movie?" Michael Thomson, senior digital media strategist, Digitas outlines its potential.

Having already conquered the subjects of the world, Google now wants to know more about your world. In a recently published patent, Google details how it plans to use signals from your environment – such as what you’re watching on television – to create a frictionless way to search.

At Advertising Week Europe, Google introduced “Search in the Age of Assistance”, a way to connect inspiration with action, search intent with search result.

This “assisted” world that has been patented is merely a breadcrumb trail, leading us closer towards a broader ambition:

“Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google… it would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing.” – Larry Page, co-founder of Google.

Google would like an effortless relationship with you – after all, you know each other well. It should be easy, like a friendship.

Search for a general subject and your approach is natural. As Google has come to know what to expect from us to some extent, we also know what to expect from its response. ‘How old is Edinburgh Castle?’ will return a factual statement, much like a tour guide would. Google will now even voice your answer, which is more human than machine. Ten years ago, the response would have been a list of links.

Search has clearly made strong strides recently: using our pin-pointed location to add context to the weather, changing what it provides based on where it predicts we’re driving to, or looking at email receipts to know where we’re flying to. It will recommend we leave in 10 minutes so we don’t miss our check-in, and explore our chat history to find out which restaurant we need opening times for (without us needing to name the place when commanding). It has so far simplified our day to day lives to the best of its impressive ability.

The challenge for Google is; us, and our world. We’re complex. We’re not available for crawling and indexing, unless we have a digital footprint.

Environmental search is arguably the next natural step. It’s no longer just a matter of making our lives easier, but rather, helping us to stay engaged in the right moments.

This new development gives us a glimpse into how Google wants to know and understand us. As we discover how it plans to listen to our environment – i.e. what’s happening around us – it’s clear that it aims to improve its relationship with inspiration and action.