Google acquires Word Lens to translate written words via device camera

19 May 2014

Google has acquired Quest Visual, the maker of an augmented reality (AR) app called Word Lens Translator, which can instantly translate printed words seen through a device’s camera.

The AR app works on Android, iOS and Google Glass and translates the words seen through a camera into a chosen language, such as from Russian to English or vice versa.

The ability to instantly translate what you are looking at is one of the most exciting aspects of the forthcoming Google Glass wearable computing device, for example.

“With Word Lens, we’ve seen the beginnings of what’s possible when we harness the power of mobile devices to see the world in your language,” Word Lens said.

“By joining Google, we can incorporate Quest Visual’s technology into Google Translate’s broad language coverage and translation capabilities in the future.

“As a thank you to everybody who supported us on our journey, we’ve made both the app and the language packs free to download for a limited time while we transition to Google.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years