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Translate the real world with Google Goggles

Monday, May 10, 2010 | 1:46 PM

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(This was posted on the Google Mobile Blog on 5/6/2010)

Traveling to another country can be an amazing experience. The opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture can give you a new perspective. However, it can be hard to fully enjoy the experience if you do not understand the local language. For example, ordering food from a menu you can not read can be an adventure. Today we are introducing a new feature of Google Goggles that will prove useful to travelers and monoglots everywhere: Goggles translation.


Here’s how it works:

  • 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

Google Goggles in action (click images to see large version)





The first Goggles translation prototype was unveiled earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and could only recognize German text. 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.

Every new release of Google Goggles contains at least one new feature and a large number of improvements to our existing functionality. In addition to translation, Goggles v1.1 features improved barcode recognition, a larger corpus of artwork, recognition of many more products and logos, an improved user interface, and the ability to initiate visual searches using images in your phone’s photo gallery.

Computer vision is a hard problem. While we are excited about Goggles v1.1, we know that there are many images that we cannot yet recognize. The Google Goggles team is working on solving the technical challenges required to make computers see. We hope you are as excited as we are about the possibilities of visual search.

Google Goggles v1.1 is available on devices running Android 1.6 and higher. To download, please scan the QR code below or go to the Android Market app on your phone and search for “Google Goggles”. See our help center for more information.


Posted by Alessandro Bissacco, Software Engineer