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Word Lens – Augmented Reality Translation

Submitted by on Friday, 17 December 2010One Comment

When I first got interested in augmented reality some 18 months ago, one of the first demos I saw was a translation application running on a Symbian device.

The demo was a Youtube video of a traveller holding up their Nokia phone to a street sign in Japan. Instantly the Japanese text was translated into English and displayed in the camera window. I lost the demo but always found the idea of using augmented reality for translation fascinating.

There have been other augmented reality translation mash-ups since then, all of which required you to take a picture of the text, highlight the text area and then press submit. To be honest very few of these have worked well. I used to do live translation demos at augmented reality events that I spoke at, but most of the time they would fail with even simple three or four word sentences. Either the light wasn’t just right or it just completely messed up a word.

With access to the camera feed, reading the text and doing a live translation on the fly without forcing the user to take a photo is obviously a much more compelling solution. Enter Word Lens from Quest Visual for the iPhone.

Word Lens is a new augmented reality translation application reads text visible in the camera window, translates it, and then overlays the original text with the translation. Better yet the dictionaries are downloaded to the phone so you don’t incur expensive roaming charges while abroad.  Word Lens currently supports Spanish & English and the languages are available as in-app purchases. (normal price $8.99 but currently on 50% discount for $4.99 until 31st December).
Even if translation is not your thing, the app is free and it comes with a demo mode that enables you to reverse or blank out words. Perfect for those drunken look what my phone can do moments over Christmas.

Take a look at the video below, is this not the future of translation?

Get it here:

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