Word Lens Demonstrates the Power of Augmented Reality

By Wesley Fenlon

Word Lens uses character recognition to re-write the words you're looking at into a language you understand.

Every so often an idea comes along that perfectly realizes the potential of its platform, leaving us in complete awe. Simple, yet brilliant, and executed just right. Today that idea is embodied in Word Lens, an augmented reality iPhone app that uses Optical Character Recognition to translate words from one language to another. Word Lens will grab an image, interpret it, and draw the words right back onto the screen--but in another language.


 Word Lens is a free download on the App Store, but the two currently available dictionaries--Spanish/English and English/Spanish--cost $5 each. The app only works on iDevices with video cameras, which should be obvious given its augmented reality nature. Because Word Lens is primarily a word-to-word translation system, it’s not going to retain the nuances of grammar or sentence structure. But it’ll get the idea across.

With more languages likely to come in the future from developer Quest Visual, Word Lens and Google’s Text-to-Voice ambitions may revolutionize international travel and communication within the next few years. So long as you have a smart phone, anyway.