Brains & Beakers: Augmented Reality, For Real

03.02.11

“Magic” is how Wired’s gadget blog describes it.

But of course it’s really cold, hard science that’s behind the mobile translation app Word Lens, hailed as one of the most compelling examples of augmented reality so far.

“We analyzed gigantic databases,” said the app’s co-creator John DeWeese, referring to the free English-Spanish translations he found online and used as the basis of the technology. “We had software that would process statistically and look at [how] that word probably matches up with that word.”

The result of that data crunching is an iPhone app that translates languages in real-time by actually replacing the text as seen through the phone’s camera with the translated text in the same color and font as the original. It may not really be magic, but you do have to see it to believe it – watch the technology in action in this interview by Austin de Rubira of Youth Radio’s Mobile Action Lab:

Turnstyle Talks: Word Lens from Turnstyle Video on Vimeo.

DeWeese stopped by Youth Radio’s newsroom recently and spent an hour with a group of our reporters, commentators and producers. He walked them through the steps of how he created Word Lens, starting with getting laid off from a gig as a game developer and meeting his future Word Lens partner at a Hackers’ Dojo in the South Bay.

Watch Asha Richardson, also of the Mobile Action Lab, discuss how the app puts to use the seemingly futuristic technology behind augmented reality:

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