Google acquires Word Lens app makers (translate with a camera)

Word Lens makes software that not only lets you translate text by pointing your smartphone’s camera at real-world objects like signs or menus… it actually replaces the text in the viewfinder with text in your chosen language.

Now the makers of Word Lens will be bringing their expertise to Google, which means the technology could be built into future versions of Android, Google Glass, or other software that relies on Google Translate.

word lens

Quest Visual announced on the Word Lens website that the team is joining Google, and while the future of the standalone Word Lens apps for Android, iOS, and Google Glass remains uncertain, for now you can download the apps and language packs for free.

Word Lens has been available in one form or another since 2010, but the software’s always seemed a bit like something out of the future… even if it doesn’t always work perfectly. Last year, the team introduced Word Lens for Google Glass, letting you translate text simply by looking at it and asking your device to convert the words in real-time.

So that’s one less reason to learn French before your next trip to Paris.

via Hacker News

  • Thomas Lee Mullins

    I think this will make travel easier, especially for those who do not speak the language of the country they are travelling in. Being able to use it offline helps people use it when there is no connection available or the connection is either limited or costly.

  • Michael Thompson

    It looks like this is the killer app for Google glass finally!
    Take heart travelers…with 1500 bucks to spend!
    In all seriousness this really does look like an awesome development that will surely benefit many people.

  • Mike

    is this the same functionality the Bing translate lense on Windows phone has (for some time now)?

    • Keith

      Probably, but if nothing else this brings it to phones anyone actually has.

      • CyberGusa

        You mean large number of people, because there are a fair number of WP users… They’re just a minority…

        Besides, the real question is whether this will work on only Android devices or whether it’ll be a Google service that you can access on any platform…

    • CyberGusa

      If the latest Apple iPhone adds are to be believed, since they have a similar system, it’s suppose to be even better… original image actually gets altered with the translated text…

      But we’ll have to wait for actual reviews to see how accurate it is… Like the Bing Translate has problems with words too close together and you may have to manually enter them to get a proper translation…

      While, image translators tend to have issues with you needing to hold the camera in a certain way… Like Bing won’t translate well if you try to hold it horizontally to get a wide sign translated, only works vertically/portrait view…

      You may also need to tell it the language being translated from, provided you know that information and whether the language is one of the languages supported…