Google Lens: the digital Swiss army knife

The Google Lens app is particularly powerful, but often overlooked. Thanks to it, Google's artificial intelligence manages, for example, to translate, read and copy text or search for information about objects placed under the eye of the camera of the mobile device on which it is installed. Here are some ideas for educational exploitation.

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ATTENTION! The English translation is automated - Errors (sometimes hilarious!) can creep in! ;)

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Launched in 2017, the Google Lens app is increasing its functionality year after year. When you install it on your mobile device (such as a cell phone), Google's artificial intelligence manages to translate text, identify or search for information about objects placed under the eye of the camera. Here are some educational possibilities to explore with the students. 


Imagine a school trip to a park. On a leaf, a caterpillar is basking in the sun, to the delight of the students. One of them points his mobile device at the beautiful stranger and says "This is a future Viceroy!" ". Google Lens can indeed, as long as the mobile device is connected to the Internet, identify an animal or plant species in 1 second. Some animals can even be viewed in augmented reality, which makes the outdoor classroom all the more interesting!


A school group takes part in a historic rally in Old Quebec. In front of the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church, students point a phone or tablet at the facade of the building in order to know its name, its history and possibly other relevant information about its neighborhood. This feature makes it possible to push back the limits of school outings, rallies, treasure hunts and other “life-size” educational escape games.


Still using the camera, Lens can translate a menu, a sign or a text written in a foreign language. The application also reads text in audio (ideal for working on pronunciation). It is even possible to obtain the definition of a word or information on a concept simply by touching the screen, which is very useful in a second language class or in an immersion situation. This feature is available offline by downloading the desired languages.

To copy

Remotely, a student would like to copy text presented in screen sharing for a work? Did someone else not have time to write down your instructions on the board? Like a digitizer, Lens recognizes text (yes, even handwritten!) And copies it to a Google Document.  

Other tools

Google Lens can perform more common tasks like reading QR codes and other bar codes.

Ad last spring, a "Homework" addition may soon solve mathematical problems, not only by giving the answer, but also by producing all the steps of the process.

Augmented reality will also support the learning of scientific concepts, for example, by visualizing the configuration of molecules in 3D when the chemical formula is scanned beforehand. In the context of distance education, this option could help students who have access to little support.

As we have seen, the educational potential of Google Lens, whether for new learning or to support students in difficulty, really needs to be exploited. 

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About the Author

Phylippe Laurendeau
Phylippe laurendeau
For 25 years, the biologist, teacher, educational advisor and now technopedagogue has accumulated a rich and diversified experience in education. In her texts, Phylippe uses her background and her passion for digital resources, efficient practices and distance learning.

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