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:
- LingoPhone Provides Mobile Translation Go back and forth between most permutations of English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese.
- Automatic License Plate Recognition Goes Mobile This system can capture and translate the text and numbers of up to 3,000 license plates per hour.
(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction)