Google Goggles Now Translates Text in Pictures

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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