How to use the Google Vision API

Recently, I covered how computers can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. One of the ways your code can “see” is with the Google Vision API. Google Vision API connects your code to Google’s image recognition capabilities. You can think of Google Image Search as a kind of API/REST interface to images.google.com, but it does much more than show you similar images.

Google Vision can detect whether you’re a cat or a human, as well as the parts of your face. It tries to detect whether you’re posed or doing something that wouldn’t be okay for Google Safe Search—or not. It even tries to detect if you’re happy or sad.

Setting up the Google Vision API

To use the Google Vision API, you have to sign up for a Google Compute Engine Account. GCE is free to try but you will need a credit card to sign up. From there you select a project (but My First Project is selected if you have just signed up). Then get yourself an API key from the lefthand menu.

google vision api screen 1IDG

Here, I’m using a simple API key that I can use with the command line tool Curl (if you prefer, you can use a different tool able to call REST APIs):

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