Two of the most iconic Sci-Fi movies ever are without a doubt The Terminator and Robocop. Despite being products of the late 80s, these films are still beloved today, decades later. One of the most striking technologies that these movies showed audiences was something later dubbed “Terminator Vision”. You see, in both these films we get to spend some time looking through the eyes of the titular cybernetic characters. They don’t see the world the way we do, instead they have augmented vision which provides all sorts of advantages. The coolest of these is the ability to recognize objects that are in view and instantly providing information on what those objects are.
Modern audiences would immediately recognize this as a form of augmented reality and indeed some people have already build mockups of Terminator vision using devices like the Hololens.
Making real life augmented vision like this has proven difficult, but with the launch of Google Lens it seemed we were about to finally get that Sci-Fi augmented vision geeks have been dreaming about for years.
Seeing is Believing
Of course, reality is hardly every a good sport when it comes to realizing our fantasies. While the tech demos were very cool, in practice the software worked in a rather hit and miss way. It would recognize objects incorrectly, often because they were very similar in some way to the correct answer.
However, like Skynet itself, Google Lens’ machine vision technology is constantly learning and now a year after launch it’s quadrupled its recognition library for a cool BILLION known products.
The improvements to Lens go beyond simply having more objects it can see and understand. Google is packing more and more AI into their camera app so that every smartphone becomes an eye belonging to an ineffable machine intelligence. That’s actually great news for use because of how incredibly useful the things it can do are. The potential is only now coming into focus.
The AR Question
Lens has turned out to be incredibly impressive as a technology, but what we really want to see is an AR headset that makes use of this technology to provide “Terminator vision” to us all for real. Since Google is so deep into the VR and AR rabbit hole it seems inevitable that the future replacement for Google Glass or whatever they decide to call it will be derived from this impressive present-day software. For now you can try the app for yourself on the Google Play Store.