We had an authentic geek-out moment at the office this morning thanks to the Google Translate app (for iOS or Android). We watched a phone translate written Japanese into English… through it’s camera view via augmented reality! It’s kind of crazy and a little creepy, but mostly just plain awesome.
Although the functionality of English/Spanish translation has been on the app for a couple of years, the English/Japanese update is new and so is some of the logic behind the translations themselves. The New York Times recently published a pretty substantial piece on artificial intelligence and referenced its use specifically in terms of improving Google Translate.
So… Is it perfect? No. I just spent more time than I’d like to admit browsing the web for things to test, and I saw a lot of bizarre phrases through my phone. BUT! It definitely works in general and I have no doubt that this would be incredibly helpful if I needed to translate signs or product labels, etc.
And assuming more languages will become enabled, the potential to help travelers seems especially huge… I’m looking forward to trying out on my next international trip!