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With augmented reality, Word Lens translates in real time

With augmented reality, Word Lens translates in real time

Posting in Technology

A new iPhone app called Word Lens can translate street signs and restaurant menus in real time, on the go, using augmented reality.

Augmented reality has been around for a little while, and it's certainly picking up steam on the mobile telecommunications front. But a new iPhone application promises to actually make AR on your smartphone useful by translating signs in other languages in real time.

The app is called Word Lens, and it's exactly that -- turn the app on and hold it over a sign in Spanish, and wham! Instant English.

Kat Hannaford at Gizmodo can't believe her own eyes:

Sometimes do you almost pinch yourself, because you just can't believe you're witnessing such creations in your lifetime?

The app is a free download, but language packs cost $5. (Only the Spanish-English pack is available now.)

The app is made by a small outfit called Quest Visual, founded by Otavio Good and John DeWeese. As they tell Alexia Tsotsis at TechCrunch, it's best for nuggets of translation, like street signs or restaurant menus.

As with any translation service, it's spotty in places, but it's a great application of AR tech -- you know, the kind that can really make a smartphone's monthly data plan bill worth it.

Here's a look:

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure