Google Goggles Becomes Your Personal Translator

With a great real-world text translation feature

By Lucian Parfeni on May 6th, 2010 16:57 GMT
Google Goggles is one of the most ambitious projects to come from the web company, and we’re talking about one innovative company here. Google aims to redefine how we search, especially when we’re not behind a desktop or laptop. The tool introduced the concept of visual search for mobile phones, snap a photo of anything and Google will do its best to get you information on it. Now, the tool is getting another party trick, real-world text translation.

“Today we are introducing a new feature of Google Goggles that will prove useful to travelers and monoglots everywhere: Goggles translation,” Alessandro Bissacco and Avi Flamholz, software engineers at Google, announced.

“The first Goggles translation prototype was unveiled earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and could only recognize German text. Today Goggles can read English, French, Italian, German and Spanish and can translate to many more languages. We are hard at work extending our recognition capabilities to other Latin-based languages. Our goal is to eventually read non-Latin languages (such as Chinese, Hindi and Arabic) as well,” they explained.

Using the new feature is straightforward. Point the phone camera at the text you want to translate and select the portion of it you need. Press the shutter button and let Google Goggles work its magic. If the Google OCR algorithms can make out what the text is saying, Goggles will translate it using Google’s powerful translation tools. All of this takes just a few seconds and, if everything goes smoothly, it should prove a very useful tool to have when you’re traveling.

But translation is not the only new feature in Google Goggles 1.1. In fact, there are some pretty hefty improvements all round. The latest version of Goggles gets better barcode recognition and also ‘knows’ a lot more products and logos. More artworks are now recognized, perhaps thanks to the Plink acquisition. The user interface also got some sprucing up and you can now start a search from an existing photo from your phone’s gallery.
The Google Goggles translation feature
   The Google Goggles translation feature
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