The announcement came on Google’s Mobile Blog where it said that the Goggles app can read English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, while being able to translate any of them into a myriad of other languages.
It works by letting the user point their phone at a word or phrase and use the region of interest button to draw a box around specific words. You then press the shutter button and if Goggles recognises the text, it will give you the option to translate. Pressing this button will give options for the source and destination languages.
This feature could make getting on in foreign countries a lot easier. No longer will you wonder what that French or Italian menu says. Road signs, logos, film titles in a cinema, and other areas where a visual translator could come in handy will be where Goggles will really shine.
It’s not without its flaws, however. The Goggles team recognise “that there are many images that we cannot yet recognise” but says the team is “working on solving the technical challenges required to make computers see.”
Even before this addition Goggles was a pretty neat application. For example, it allowed you to take a photo of a book cover and then display synopses, reviews, and so forth for that book. If you wanted to know who painted the piece of art you’re looking it can also do that. It can even offer real-time info on shops and venues you’re standing outside using video and GPS technology.
A video showing Goggles in action can be seen below:
Google Goggles v1.1 is available on phones running Android 1.6 or higher.