Google has purchased Word Lens, an impressive app that translates foreign languages in real time using the iPhone and Android smartphone built-in camera. It’s now free for a limited time.
Word Lens Image credit: Apple
Back in 2010, a company called Quest Visual debuted a little app called Word Lens. It scarcely seemed possible, but the app translated a number of different languages in real time using just the smartphone’s camera. When traveling in a foreign country, Word Lens users would simply hold the phone up to a sign and the camera would immediately translate it.
Currently, users can translate between English and Portuguese, German, Italian, French, Russian, and Spanish.
It’s easy to see why Google would want to own it — its stated mission is to make all the world’s information searchable in any language — and Google Translate generally does this quite well, at least for web pages. […]