Real time translation

I just discovered an augmented reality app for smartphones that will translate text from one language to another as you look at it. This app is called Word Lens.

This way of interacting with the computer is very different from the text based interfaces we have become accustomed to. Word Lens translate text and shows you the translation right before your eyes. The old way would have meant typing the text in a translator and then seeing the translation. Newer ones allow you to take a picture of the text and then it gets translated by a server. The augmented reality interface is what people call “frictionless”. The interface gets out of the way and just performs its function.

The directly visual interface is amazing. I think one challenge augmented reality glasses will face is how users should let the device know what real world object they are interested in. If I look at a book, I would like to tell the computer I am interested in it. This is real world object selection. Except that you cannot use a mouse. Once the real object is selected then you need some way to select the AR function; such as translate the title, show the books metadata, show a review, find a place to buy it, and so on.

Being able to do this means that the glasses will need to be able to detect and classify real world objects. They will have to be able to distinguish between a car and a book. Now that is truly object oriented programming!

Categories: Augmented Reality

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