Google Buys App that Instantly Translates Signs When You’re on the Go

Google Buys App that Instantly Translates Signs When You’re on the Go

by Translation Guy on May 20, 2014

Ah! The joys of visiting a foreign country: exploring new cities and blazing your own paths. But wait, what does that sign say? Is it “Caution: Wet Paint” or is it “Beware of Dog?”

First there were friends you relied on for these types of situations. Then there were phrasebooks and bilingual dictionaries. Next there were electronic ones you could put in your pocket. And now Google just wants you to look at it with Glass. But what is Glass? It’s a wearable computer fashioned like a pair of eyeglasses that responds to voice commands and the swiping of the touchpad located on the side of the glasses.

Word Lens, a Glass app and Google’s newest acquisition, allows users to look at signs in foreign languages and have the translations appear in their visual field like small signs in plain fonts – without disturbing what the user is looking at. The app has local storage for 10,000 words with the idea being that you can use it when you’re abroad and don’t have a data plan.

Before it became a Glass app, Word Lens was available as an app for Android and iPhone. And for the moment, they are free to download. It’s unclear exactly for how long though, as Google bought Quest Visual, the company that created Word Lens, and is having them join the Google Translate team.

Besides translating signs, other current Glass apps help users do things like get directions, track exercise activities, read the news, cook, play music, take pictures and record video. Irresponsible use of those last two have many privacy advocates concerned, but with all new technologies and gadgets, we’ll kind of just have to wait and see what happens. As of this month, Google Glass is available to the public for $1,500, though there is hope for a less expensive model in the future.

What do you think of Word Lens, or Glass for that matter? 


  1. Vic Duan says:

    We crawled the half of Web and found 57,000+ business websites use Google Translate. In MHO, they should use a professional translation service like 1-800 if they’re serious about their business. When Google Translation is integrated with Glass, I believe it can do a much better, or more accurately, more helpful job for a user in a tourism context, where a human translator is often avaible.

  2. Joe Mitchell says:

    With all the advancements in modern technology you’d wonder if future generations will even need to bother to learn other languages at all! I can imagine a small device which you speak into which instantly translates and then speaks what you say in a foreign language for you (perhaps this already exists?). I have to admit this new Google glass app sounds pretty cool though.


LiveZilla Live Chat Software