WordLens Translates Spanish, Italian And French To English Instantly Using Smartphone Camera
A fairly common reason for not travelling abroad is the fear of finding yourself out of your comfort zone with little comprehension of the foreign language.
We can’t really blame ourselves for being worried; it’s a daunting prospect and it can be painstaking and embarrassing to spend 10 minutes staring at the dictionary only to construct a syntactically questionable sentence.
Fortunately, these worries can for the most part be put to rest with the new iPhone and Android app WordLens – provided you’re going to Spain, Italy or France.
The wordlens app uses text recognition technology to work out what a word or phrase says when displayed in front of the phone’s camera, and then employs translation software to display it in English on screen.
An online promo video shows all of this happening in practically real time, and the app has been hailed as the greatest display of augmented reality on sale to the public today.
How accurate is it?
Wordlens is not word perfect – but what can we really expect? The translation is good enough to give us a decent idea of what the sign/menu/booklet is saying and for the most part you can work it out yourself from there.
Wordlens also provides a little bit of humour when translations go wrong – who wouldn’t want to try a ‘Tongue Bolivian with a sauce spicy of anchovies’?
How can we get it?
The app is available on the Android and iPhone app store for the price of £3, and I’d say it’s well worth the investment.
Otavio Good, one of the wordlens developers, says that the team plan on introducing more languages in the future and even mentioned the possibility of a voice reader for the blind.
As technology progresses we could even expect the translations themselves to be more precise, and that would open up a whole world of new possibilities; would it be too risky to trust the translation of an important document to a smartphone app?
Faith in smartphones is growing; just recently we’ve heard doctors admitting that an iPhone app which scans the skin for cancer presents remarkably similar findings to their own. Not only is the development of apps improving, but the technology present in smartphones is becoming more incredible with every new update.
I’m sure that WordLens will, for the most part, earn its keep with holiday makers and students cheating their French homework, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it creeps into the business world occasionally too.
Rob writes about technology for spectacles provider DirectSight.