Google Translate's Word Lens Technology is Flawed, But Excellent
We use our smartphones for nearly every single thing in our lives: networking, banking, shopping, time management, and more. Why wouldn't we use it to make interacting with others in this wide, wide world much easier? With all the varying languages in the world, one can feel quite alone when faced with the hardship of traveling to another country where they don't speak the language, or even face to face with a new acquaintance who doesn't understand the words you're trying to share with them. Google Translate understands this, and that's why the recent acquisition of technology that allows you to translate signs, writing, posters, and other forms of lettering on the fly has been so important. Google's usage of Word Lens technology is one of the most impressive advancements in mobile tech in some time, and it's absolutely something you should pay attention to, especially if you find yourself traveling often.
Translating the World in Real-Time
You don't need to download a new app or anything of the sort in order to test out this new tech. An update to the original Google Translate adds Word Lens functionality to the free app that many users probably already have. Once you've updated or have downloaded the app, all you need to do is choose the camera button and aim your camera lens at something like a signpost, poster, or some sort of written foreign language that you need translated. Google Translate will scan and deliver the meaning of the written language to you in real-time, superimposing text over the exact area on your phone. For instance, if you come across a street sign that you can't understand, rather than slapping some text into the app that translates, the app will attempt to replicate the very font, size, and deliver it to you in a readable manner. It's next-gen level tech, and impressive on several levels.
Some Flaws Remain, But It's Still Impressive
While Google Translate is admirable in its attempts to ensure you're able to read the foreign text in front of you, it's not without its hiccups. Some posters and other types of text won't convert without you having to manually scan them in, and it's a little iffy when it comes to handwriting. I wrote down some Spanish phrases on notebook paper and had to make sure it was reasonably dark before my iPhone would recognize the fact that I had written a phrase in a foreign language. Obviously it didn't mimic my handwriting, but it did give a valiant effort when it came to attempting to translate the words on paper. I gave it a try on some concert posters as well, and interestingly enough the app was able to translate fonts that weren't too ornate. I feel that was impressive as it were, because how often do you need to translate notes and that ilk? If you're traveling abroad, staying with a host family, or even trying to communicate with someone via paper, that's something to consider. And Google Translate did a decent job of proving that it could do something like that.
In the end, Google Translate's potential has jumped exponentially from fun side treat to make fun of someone in Japanese or learn how to ask for the toilet in Spanish to absolutely essential travel tool. It's interesting how one little addition can so greatly alter the playing field, but it's got me eager to see what's next from the search giant, especially the instant translate service that takes spoken language and immediately offers a reply for you. It's bringing the world together, a little at a time. And isn't that what technology's about at the end of the day?