A real-time translating app that magically turns billboard signs and menus, otherwise incomprehensible in a foreign land, into text that you can understand is now available for iPhones.
The app called WordLens that made an entry into iTunes now comes as a savior to travelers who are lost in translation. The app costing $4.99 uses the iPhone camera to immediately translate Spanish into English and vice versa.
Currently the app only works with Spanish and English. It uses Optical Character Recognition technology to effect translation. It translates any Spanish word that is viewed through iPhone camera into English.
The app from QuestVisual was developed by Ptavio Good and John DeWeese. Good told TechCrunch that the app tries to find out what the letters are and then looks in the dictionary. Then it draws the words back on the screen in translation.
Prior to using the Optical Character Recognition (OCR), the source material is first scanned using an optical scanner to read the material as a bitmap (pattern of dots). The OCR software then processes these scans to distinguish between images and text. The OCR software then matches these images against stored bitmaps based on specific fonts. The technology is primarily adopted by libraries to make documents available in digital format.
However, the translation is not always grammatically perfect but is delivered real-time. And a logical step for the WordLens app is to add more languages to its portfolio.
So next time you can read a menu written in different language or find your own directions sans a cryptographer or a guide, courtesy WordLens.