Google unveils real-time translation tool for smart phones

Google announced on May 6 that its Google Goggles application for Android-based mobile phones now can take photos of foreign-language text and instantly translate the text using Google’s free language services, reports the New York Times. Google’s announcement means science fiction is edging closer to reality, and it could have important implications for education. Google Goggles is an Android-specific application that has been available from Google since last year. The application lets people take pictures of objects with their mobile phone that can be used to search the web. For example, taking a picture of monument or painting can be used to search Google for information about that object. Now, a new addition to the service lets users take a picture of a snippet of text using their mobile phone and then run it through Google’s free translation service to decipher its meaning. As Google writes in a blog post, a simple scenario for this application could take place when ordering food from a menu that is written in a language you can’t read. The service currently can read English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish, but it can translate texts into several other languages. Google said it plans to extend the text-recognition feature to work with other “Latin-based languages,” and it eventually hopes to read Chinese and Arabic…

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