Google Goggles as Language Translation Tool

Google Goggles (visual search) is a product that doesn't yet live up to its promise. But if Google can continue to improve it it may turn out to be much more useful than conventional search in mobile. To that end Google recently acquired startup Plink to improve the product.

Now Google is offering a potentially compelling new use case for Goggles: language translation. According to the Google Mobile Blog:

  • Point your phone at a word or phrase. Use the region of interest button to draw a box around specific words
  • Press the shutter button
  • If Goggles recognizes the text, it will give you the option to translate
  • Press the translate button to select the source and destination languages.

Today Goggles can read English, French, Italian, German and Spanish and can translate to many more languages. We are hard at work extending our recognition capabilities to other Latin-based languages. Our goal is to eventually read non-Latin languages (such as Chinese, Hindi and Arabic) as well.

This functionality builds on Google Translate. It uses image-text recognition to get the desired phrases into Google Translate and then the native language of the user. I assume this also works for signs on the street, in addition to text on mobile Web pages. 

The use cases and value of this are obvious. 

Like Google Navigation Goggles should eventually make its way onto the iPhone and other smartphone platforms. For now, however, Google is keeping Goggles for Android exclusively.