Translation and Interpreting in 150+ Languages
A public parking sign in Guatemala
Google Buys App that Instantly Translates Signs When You’re on the Go
May 20, 2014 - By: - In: In the News / Awards, Language, Translation - Comments Off on Google Buys App that Instantly Translates Signs When You’re on the Go

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? 

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