A while ago I wrote a couple of articles (here and here) on how hard it can be to recognise ‘the future’ when one sees it. Well today I saw something which definitely looks like the future, in fact I was sure it was a spoof at first. It’s a product for the iPhone called Word Lens and it instantly translates text from one language to another. So one simply holds up the phone so that its built in camera is looking at the target text and the screen shows the view – but the with text in a different language! The text is rendered in fonts and colours similar to the original text so it looks passably similar – it looks like a miracle! The Word Lens web site which has a couple video clips of the product in action.
I have two colleagues at work who regularly compete to ‘out-app’ each other – one of them shows off an app for producing images of the night sky that change as one moves the phone around – and the other will respond with an app which can measure the ambient magnetic fields. There is a whole ‘app universe‘ out there, but this is the first thing I have seen which combines relatively simple ideas like word recognition, and text translation to make an app that looks like it has been beamed back from the future. If I ever get an iPhone, I will definitely get one of these! And when will I get an iPhone? In the future!