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Google's deep sea search tests: photos

Google recently asked several members of its Chrome team to go on a search under the sea, not for the lost city of Atlantis, but for things like currency conversions, weather forecasts and the answer to life and the universe. We take a look into Google Australia's underwater tests of Google Voice Search.
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By Luke Hopewell, Journalist on
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1 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

Google Australia engineers Noel Gordon and Alice Boxhall travelled to the Great Barrier Reef, armed with notebooks and their Android-powered Sony Ericsson Experia smartphone to see if they could get search terms working underwater. The handset is mounted on a retort stand and held firmly in place by the clips...

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2 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

...while a transducer relays the voice of a diver looking for a coffee shop, for example. I know I often struggle while diving to get a decent latte.

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3 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

Meanwhile, on the boat, engineers record the results.

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4 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

The diver reports a successful test after a search. The search terms included queries like "what is a transducer?"

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5 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

But voice searching from the deep blue sea wasn't enough for Google Australia. The local arm of the world's largest search company is also looking to compensate for high background noise like echoes or wind, for example, while voice searching, so a trip into a cave system was called for.

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6 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

Gordon and Boxhall consult a map of the cave system. If only Street View could get down there.

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7 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

The engineers once again test voice search in the difficult environment. Google Australia said that it can take what it's learning from these tests and apply it to desktop search, giving users new ways to find things and eliminate the barrier of spelling, accents and background noise.

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8 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

These tests also feed into the "mobile first" vision announced by former Google chief Eric Schmidt, where the search giant's mobile fleet gets innovative new tech first. Google Australia said that voice search is a way of making the Android phone smarter. By giving it speech recognition capabilities, hooking it into a brain the size of the internet while understanding where it is and what it can see, Google can unlock a better way to search.

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9 of 9 Luke Hopewell/ZDNet

(Credit: Google Australia)

The Google engineers pack up their kit and move onto the next adventure. No trademark hat or whip for these searchers, though. Google Australia told ZDNet Australia that its next exotic search tests would take place in the desert.

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