You have certainly seen the demo video of Word Lens by now. Every major (and minor) tech blog has written about it.
This is a cool demo of an insanely cool product, right?
Right, except it isn’t a recorded demo, it’s a faked marketing video. The same kind of video as here:
Except the idea is not new and even the product does not work as advertised. Here is what people who tried it are saying:
- It’s good at translating the letters, but the results are choppy.
- Overall, the translation is just so-so.
- I couldn’t get the two demo features to work correctly on some boxes with type or a flyer I had. You could see it try to do something but it would just give up after a while.
- This app is doing almost a word by word translation, without a list of usual expressions or grammatical analysis. For example, the correct translation of ‘Dead End’ is ‘callejón sin salida’, that means literally something like ‘street without exit’. Translating word by word ‘Dead End’ you obtain ‘Muerto Fin’ that is unintelligible.
People from OCR industry confirmed that the Word Lens translation quality is dismal and any established OCR software like ABBYY FineReader or OmniPage would eat Word Lens for lunch. With all the hype out there about instant translation, expect established vendors to release similar applications pretty soon. Maybe even Google will do it, or they’ll buy Word Lens instead.
Meanwhile, we should appreciate Word Lens marketing creativity. The video is so cool that people started saying that all the time and money they have invested in learning Spanish is a waste. Can you believe THAT?