​Google adds Word Lens technology to Translate app

Google has added Word Lens, a technology acquired last year, to its Google Translate app. The addition brings Google closer to its universal translator ambitions.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google on Wednesday said that it has updated its Google Translate app to include Word Lens, a technology acquired last year that can read signs in various language and translate them to and from English.

The Word Lens capabilities will be added to Android with some features coming to Apple's iOS platform for the first time. Google acquired Quest Visual, the company that created Word Lens, last year. For Google, the acquisition gave the search giant technology it could use throughout its platform.

Instant translation could be a handy perk for business travelers. With the Translate app update, you point your camera at a sign or text and you'll see the translation overlaid on the screen.

So far the instant translation feature works in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Google said other languages are on deck.

In addition, Google made its real-time conversation engine faster so translations can be delivered faster. Google's goal is to turn the phone into a universal translator.

It's a safe bet that Word Lens will be integrated throughout Google properties with the real win being wearable computing initiatives such as Google Glass.

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