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Summary:

If you had any doubt that we are living in the future, Google today introduced visual translation tools for use with a camera phone. Specifically, the new version of its Google Goggles app can recognize pictures of words written in five languages and rapidly translate them.

If you had any doubt that we are living in the future, Google today introduced visual translation tools for use with a camera phone. Specifically, the new version of its Google Goggles app, available for Android phones running version 1.6 of the OS or higher, can recognize pictures of words written in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish and rapidly translate them into other languages.

Goggles translation, which was demoed at Mobile World Congress this year, will be ideal for travelers. All users have to do is hold their phone up to a menu, newspaper or sign they can’t understand, identify the words they want translated, take a picture to send to Google, and select a destination language. Google said it hopes to eventually extend the tool to non-Latin languages as well.

Google just bought the visual search startup Plink, which helped users recognize works of art, and added the company’s two founders to the Goggles team. (The Goggles project, which launched in December, actually originated from an acquisition as well, though that dates back in 2006 when Google bought Neven Vision.)

We recently interviewed futurist Michael Liebhold about the implications of Goggles, which he expects will be used to create a map of pictures of the world that can be used for extremely accurate geolocation.

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  1. Now this sir makes more sense than an advertisement about a rich kid going on a 1 year sabbatical before college and using an “App” to translate what he speaks…

  2. Are QR Tags already a thing of the past?

    Just as they are gaining traction in the US, you have to wonder, why bother? Take a picture of any image/text that can be decoded or trigger relevant data returned?

    I certainly would be concerned if I was invested in any proprietary QR tech…

    1. QR codes are a shortcut — if the tech is good enough to use reality as a marker, that will be preferable. There’s a lot more on this topic on the GigaOM Pro report about location if you’re interested. http://pro.gigaom.com/2010/02/location-the-epicenter-of-mobile-innovation/

  3. None of your new ooyala videos play. The player says “Video available soon. Available in 1 min.”

    1. Chris Albrecht jdk Thursday, May 6, 2010

      Hi JDK,

      I’m seeing the video just fine. Where/how are you watching?

      1. Hi Chris,

        I submitted a bug report to Ooyla, and received an unfortunate reply:
        “Unfortunately, Linux is not among our supported configurations. We currently support only Windows and MacOSX boxes.”

        Don’t know whether to score this one for or against Flash, but it seems unreasonable considering every other video hosting service works fine.

  4. Skyltdocka Friday, May 7, 2010

    Seems to be nice tools frequent travellers can look forward to. I just hope the translations returned are a little bit better in quality to what is currently produced by Google Translator.

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  8. That will turn ordering dinner into an entirely new experience. Let’s hope that the translation will not be too creative.
    As translating menu is a special subdivision of the translating field, you might be surprised by what appears either on your screen or, even more delicious, on your plate :-)

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