Google Goggles Can Translate Text from Pictures
Article by George Norman
On 18 Feb 2010
Google Goggles is an app that lets you search for something by simply taking a picture of an item. For example you could take a picture of the Brandenburg Gate while on vacation in Germany and Google Goggles will present a list of search results – just like if you had performed a classic search.

Sticking with the trip to Germany example we’ve used above, imagine this scenario if you will: you go into a restaurant, a nice waitress shows you to your table and hands you a menu. You open it and see that all the items in the menu are in German – obviously, since you’re in Germany. The trouble is that you can barely say “guten tag” and “danke”, so understanding what the menu says is impossible. You could fire up Google Translate and attempt to translate the items in the menu. But that would take forever and you’re starving.


You do not have to starve or randomly order some food if you have Google Goggles. You could take a picture of the menu and Google Goggles will translate the text for you. That is the functionality Google CEO Eric Schmidt and scientist Hartmut Neven showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the year’s biggest mobile event. By combining Google's machine translation with image recognition technologies, Google Goggles can translate text from a photo – or it will be able to do so in the future.

“Right now this technology only works for German-to-English translations and it's not yet ready for prime time. However, it shows a lot of promise for what the future might hold. Soon your phone will be able to translate signs, posters and other foreign text instantly into your language. Eventually, we're hoping to build a version of Google Goggles that can translate between all of the 52 languages currently supported by Google Translate — bringing even more information to you on the go,” commented Hartmut Neven.

Tags: Google, Google Goggles
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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