Being able to translate text in any format whilst in a foreign country is extremely useful, and being fluent in the native tongue of the nation that you are exploring can instantly solve a number of issues you may encounter whilst abroad.

But how about having a quick, easy to use tool in your pocket that can do all the hard work for you?

Well, technology wizards have conjured up an iPhone application that can do just that.


When first developed, the app – dubbed WorldLens – had the ability to instantly translate any number of words viewed through the mobile phone’s camera from Spanish (ES) into English (EN), and back again!

Created by a company called Quest Visual in the United States, WorldLens utilises the iPhone’s built-in camera to scan and read the text as it is viewed through the lens.

The app description simply states: ‘See the world in your language: instantly translate printed words using your built-in video camera, in real time!’.

Having been featured on Bloomberg, The Economist, Wired, The New York Times, Tech Crunch, as well as across the British media, the app now has the potential to translate to and from French and Italian too (with In-App purchases).

Using text recognition and clever automatic translation software to translate words into the chosen target language, WorldLens is a surefire sign of what is to come, as technology advances and the need and desire for instant translation tools increases.

Once translated, the text is pasted over the original image shown in the camera’s viewer almost in real time, making it much quicker and more efficient than using your inbuilt web browser to search for a simple machine translation.

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The creators have pointed out and accepted the fact that literal translations aren’t always 100% perfect, but in terms of being able to quickly translate a set of words and provide you with a ‘gist’ translation, this app really is a very handy tool.

Those familiar with mobile apps may note some similarities with Google’s own application called Google Goggles, which lets users take a picture of a phrase and then search the web using the word9s) as the search term. Of course, the methods behind Google Goggles mean you don’t get a near-instant translation as you would with WorldLens though.

With the latest language, Italian, being added in the latest Version: 1.2 update earlier this month, the app continues to push new boundaries, and we predict a whole host of new languages and features in the future.

It certainly begs the question just how far such mobile apps can go, and what the future holds for handheld services that can quickly translate on the go wherever you may be in the world.

Whilst we love the potential and ease of such technology, we firmly believe that nothing beats being able to speak the native tongue of the country you’re in, and being able to read and speak foreign languages is ultimately the quickest and best way to translate anything you see, as you see it.

Click here for more information on our various language translation services, or check out our Multimedia translation services.