Home ANTHILL TV How does it do that? iPhone app translates text on the fly

How does it do that? iPhone app translates text on the fly


Before you read another word of this text, watch the video below. Seriously. It’s OK. We can wait.

… mmmm-mmmm … Puff the Magic Dragon … dum dum de dummm …

Welcome back. If the reaction you’re feeling can be translated roughly to “they’re yanking my chain,” you’re not alone. We at Stately Anthill Manor had a similar reaction when we first saw this. It doesn’t seem feasible than an iPhone text-recognition app could not only translate the words on an object, but project the translation on the object itself. Right?

Well, Apple thinks it’s legit; Word Lens is available for download at the App Store. And the outfit behind this application, Quest Visual, doesn’t promise miracles. On its website, the designers say it works best under good conditions (clear text, bright light) and that it can’t “read” books. In other words, it’s one hell of a one-trick pony, but the horse is rather finicky.

The translations cover the most common European languages. The developers concede that a translation might seem odd or out of order (a la Babelfish), but that you usually can get the gist of it. And sorry, it’s only an iPhone toy. There’s no version for Droids, Blackberry or WinPhone7. As the developers say on their site, “Our goal was to get a great first release on one platform. Keep in touch!”

Word Lens by Quest Visual

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