Step in Google Labs for Some Fun
Last week I told you about some of the places where Google is expanding and how it is getting into a wide range of services.
Some of the things that Google is developing are pretty fantastic. You can see many of them yourselves in an area called "Google Labs." The Labs can be found at www.googlelabs.com.
This is the place where Google lets you try out its latest software. These are programs that are still "in the making." So some of the details might not yet be perfect, but they are all very usable.
You'll find that some are pretty fantastic. Here are a few currently featured Lab programs that I suggest you try. You can find a link to each one in the Google Labs.
Body Browser is a newly developed program and one of Google's most specular offerings. Body Browser gives a detailed 3D model of the human body.
If you, like me, played with the "Invisible Man" or "Invisible Woman" models when you were a kid, you will love this. You are presented with an on screen body, and you can peel back anatomical layers, going from the skin to the bones in anatomical increments.
You can zoom into any area and navigate to parts that interest you. You can search for certain muscles, organs or bones. Everything is accurately labeled.
You will be amazed by the human body as well as by the program. To view the Body Browser, you will need a Web browser that supports WebGL, which is an up-and-coming feature in browsers.
The latest Beta version of Google's Chrome Web browser supports WebGL and will work with the Body Browser. It is free and publicly available at www.google.com/landing/chrome/beta. If you have the time, this one is definitely worth a look.
Google Goggles lets you search Google using pictures from your camera phones - no words, just pictures. Take a picture with your cell phone camera, put it into Google Googles and Google will give you search results relating to that picture.
For instance, if you take a picture of the Statue of Liberty, Google Goggles will recognize it and will give you Web results about the Statue of Liberty. It's pretty amazing.
It uses object recognition, place matching, OCR and several other image recognition backends to return relevant search results. If you have a mobile phone with a camera, it's a fun one to try, and you may be amazed by its accuracy.
Open Spot is one of the Google Labs programs that will give you a glimpse of the future of mobile phone use. It lets people who use cell phones with the Android operating system tell the world that they are leaving a good parking spot. This allows those who are looking for a parking spot in the same location zero in on an open parking spot.
Using Open Spot is almost a little game of good deeds. You can earn karma points by playing because you are helping others save time, gas and frustration.
This is a way to get step-by-step transit directions on your computer's Web browser or mobile phone. It will help you find transit stops in your area and will let you view station information and schedules. It is perfect if you are visiting a new city.
City Tours is a little program that will give you walking tours of major cities. You just give it a starting address and Google will find nearby points of interest and create a path for you to follow. You can even create multi-day walking tours and/or create your own tours of points of interest that you want to see.
Fast Flip gives you a speedy overview of the day's headlines from top newspapers. If you want to quickly peruse the news, this one is for you.
Google Alerts is a service that will send you e-mail updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your choice of topic. I have a Google Alert for "Sandy Berger." So every time my name is mentioned on the Web, Google will send me an alert. Unfortunately, I also get alerts about the Sandy Berger from Washington, D.C., who stuffed classified documents into his pants, but now I really know a lot about him as well.
This is a perfect service if you want information on a certain disease, celebrity, politician or other topic. You can control the timing of the alerts so that you don't get too many.
Would you like to see how much flu is in your current area or an area that you are about to visit? Google Flu Trends will show you exactly the amount of flu activity in that area. It covers both the United States and Mexico.
This is just a brief taste of what the Google Labs has to offer. There are many, many more. All the programs are free and all are easy to use.
The Google Labs is constantly changing as Google adds more and more works in progress to their laboratory. If you want to see the latest and the greatest, be sure to check out the Google Labs.
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp. P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst NC 28374; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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