Word Lens was originally created as a stand-alone augmented reality app for translating text on the fly without the need of an internet connection.
Quest Visual, the developers behind the app, originally released Word Lens in 2010. At launch it was a free app with pay-to-access language packs. Quest Visual was acquired by Google, Inc in May of 2014. After being acquired, the first thing Google did was release the app and all of the language packs completely free. The technology behind Word Lens is now incorporated into Google Translate; available on Glass, iOS, and Android devices.
The AR features from Word Lens are usable within Google Translate through the camera icon. To use the app, the user simply points their phone’s camera towards a sign or other written text and then in real time the text is translated. Google Translate handles this by analyzing the printed text using optical recognition to translate the words and displaying them in overlay over the original words.
Same as the original release of Word Lens, this portion of Google Translate is capable of running on the device without the need of an internet connection. The offline mode is currently supported for 52 different languages.
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