April 10, 2008

Camera Translates Foreign Text in Photos

Nokia has just showcased a nifty mobile translator cameraphone
application called Shoot-to-Translate. The intent is to ease the lives
of busy travelers trying to read signs and news in foreign lands. You
see a sign or other text in Chinese, take a clear picture, and presto!
you've got the English version.

The text released with the prototype demonstration unit (see photo) for the Shoot-to-Translate cellphone is as follows:

"Shoot to Translate: a demonstration using software that
translates written characters into another language; the original text
is captured with the camera on the Nokia multimedia computer and
translation happens in real time."

At present, the Nokia Shoot-to-Translate feature only translates Chinese to English.

I believe that there is a close analog to this device that was
provided as an assistive device to people who are visually impaired.
The K-NFB device developed by Ray Kurzweil would allow the user to take
a picture of some text in English, do character recognition, and then
read the resulting text aloud. See K-NFB Portable Text To Speech for more details.

Take a look at these other efforts in real-time translation:

Via Nokia Mobile App Translates Text.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction)