Visiting countries other than your homeland can be very exciting, but it can also be quite daunting too. This is especially true if you are not completely fluent in the language that everyone else around you is speaking. But, even if you are lucky enough to get some people around you that do speak English, what about all the signs, and menus, and maps, etc. that are all written in a foreign language? How on Earth are you going to get by?
Well, thanks to the ever popular Google, that’s how. In 2014 Google acquired yet another business to add to its portfolio – Quest Visual. This San Francisco-based company was founded in 2009 by Mr. Otavio Good and even at the time the acquisition went through, there were only four employees, including Mr. Good. But, that does not mean that it deserves any less credit. Quite the opposite. Being such a small company, the team were able to work very closely with one another to develop the amazing augmented reality translation app, Word Lens.
This clever little app can scan foreign text that is displayed for example on a sign, menu or newspaper and translate it in real time into the language you require. Pretty cool, huh? When the app was first introduced by Quest Visual, it was only capable of deciphering Spanish to English and vice versa. But, since Google acquired Quest Visual to integrate the app into Google Translate they have developed it to cater for more than 25 different languages including Norwegian, German, Bulgarian and Russian.
Other companies are also offering similar apps for smartphones, such as The Netherlands Architecture Institute’s app which draws on images to show you how they looked previously. Also, Metaio, who are a child company of Apple, are working on an app that can act as a real-time repair guide for fixing printers.
And, this is only the beginning. As smartphones get more sophisticated and can handle more data we will see more advanced apps being developed to cater to society’s needs. Also, by combining this type of technology with others out there, the possibilities are endless! Soon we may even be able to get an app that will direct us straight to the book we are looking for in the library or where our favorite food is located in the supermarket! How cool would that be?
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