Amazing iPhone/iPod touch app offers real-time, augmented reality text translations (with video)

“A new iPhone app known as Word Lens will translate Spanish or English phrases instantly on the screen when you point your device’s camera lens at the foreign language words,” Chloe Albanesius reports for PC Magazine. “Not sure what the menu in that Madrid sidewalk cafe is offering? Point your iPhone’s camera at the menu and it will translate right in front of you.”

“The futuristic app made its debut in the App Store Thursday, and is currently the number nine app in Apple’s top 10 free apps,” Albanesius reports. “Word Lens, from San Francisco-based Quest Visual, is free to download and includes two free features – reverse words and erase words. The Spanish to English function or English to Spanish feature, however, currently cost $4.99 each to download as part of a 50 percent off sale that ends December 31.”

Albanesius reports, “Quest Visual said the feature works without an Internet connection… Word Lens works with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, or iPod touch with a video camera. Other languages are in the works, the company said.”

Full article here.

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28 Comments

  1. Okay, that video is, as my son would say, “sick!” I’ve looked at augmented reality apps in the App Store, and they all promise a lot, but when you read the reviews, the vast majority of users say it doesn’t work as advertised. It will be really interesting to see if this sucker actually does what it says.

  2. I’ve spent the money, and while it clearly struggles with large blocks of words, I’m still impressed as heck.

    Think about it: a mobile ARM processor has to drive a camera, decipher letters and perform translation in real-time. No wonder it struggles.

    Even if I never use it, I’m glad to spend the money to encourage development of apps like this. Go forth and multiply.

  3. I bought this and was totally blown away. And everyone I’ve shown it to has their jaw sink right to the floor. It’s purpose is to translate things like signs & phrases, not whole paragraphs or pages, so it’s accuracy is certainly good enough for that. So far I haven’t noticed any errors that makes me want to complain.

  4. Chances are that English speakers who can’t speak at least one other language can hardly read English in the first place, so spelling out the translation wouldn’t help as much as ‘speaking’ it would. How about something more useful, like incorrectly spelled English to correctly spelled English, or Yiddish <—> Arabic? Or Legal Fine Print <—> common English?

    Still, at least it’s a pin-light at the end of the long tunnel leading to a Universal Translator. Or a Double-Speak Interpreter©. Or even a… uh, never mind.

  5. Even though the app itself is free, it serves no purpose before you make an in-app purchase of a language.

    So you need to come up with the money without having any idea how good the translations are.

    A minimimal set of languages should be available, even if that entails having to endure ads or bumping into a limit of fewer than, say, 50 translated words to start out and maybe 10 extra/day.

    Alternatively, have the consumer pay per translated word.

  6. lim….

    I like your idea of a legal to common sense… that would be grand…” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    But, do you remember Apple posting their rules and guidelines (I think about App Store development) in clear easy to understand language? That is what we need in this world, a return to common sense and common decency.

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