Word Lens app translates what your iPhone sees

Word Lens app translates what your iPhone sees

Summary: QuestVisual has just released Word Lens, a standalone £2.99/$4.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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QuestVisual has just released Word Lens, a standalone £2.99/$4.99 iPhone app that uses optical character recognition (OCR) to identify words in images, and then translate them. The app exploits well-known technologies -- OCR and dictionary translation -- but the way the translated words replace the originals has a magical effect, as demonstrated in the company's promotional video (below). This "augmented reality" aspect makes it different from Google Goggles for Android phones, which has OCR but uses Google to provide a plain text translation.

Word Lens will not have wide appeal at the moment because it only handles English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English translation. Support for French, German and Italian would obviously widen its scope. Support for languages that don't use Latin characters, such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean, would be a real breakthrough but is far from simple.

Also, the translations are basically word-for-word, which should work well with road and shop signs, menus and other things that travellers often need to translate. Translating prose is, again, a bigger challenge.

QuestVisual's app might not change the world, but it provides a glimpse of a future where some of our science fiction dreams could actually come true.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2OfQdYrHRs QuestVisual's Word Lens demo

Topic: Tech Industry

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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  • The augmented reality aspect is pretty jaw-dropping. It won't be long before people start asking for other languages and an Android version.
    Karen Friar