February 17, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
The Google Goggles Android app and Google Translate are two slightly flawed but promising products. From a conceptual standpoint, these apps are great and will be must-have tools in the future; however, their present-day practicality is limited thanks to inconsistent scanning technology and sometimes comically bad translation services. Despite those current limitations, I look forward to the day when I can translate scanned text on my Android phone.
Google previewed such a feature during their Mobile World Congress keynote. In a video posted to YouTube, a Google engineer is seen using a version of Google Goggles to scan a menu written in German. Goggles then provides a quick translation into English to help diners decide what to order.
The OCR translation won’t be pinpoint accurate, as any student who has ever tried to use Google Translate to cheat on a Spanish essay assignment will tell you. (Present company not included, of course). However, this will still be useful to travelers who don’t speak the language of countries they visit. That usefulness can only increase as translation and scanning technology improves.