Friday, December 17, 2010

iPhone app for "on the fly" translation

Introducing "Word Lens" for the iPhone

I usually prefer to review apps that teachers can use directly in the classroom with kids, but I couldn't pass up blogging about this one. True, not every kid will arrive with an iPhone, but the newest iPods and iPads will soon have cameras ( so this app could be used by more than just phone owners.) In some ways, watching this app in action is like watching magic!

Word Lens translates from English to Spanish and vice versa "on the fly" via the camera. You see the street sign "magically" switch languages right on your phone screen. Although the dictionary is limited to two languages for the moment, this app has tremendous potential. Each language "pack" costs $4.99, and I imagine more languages will be available soon. I would love to see a version that works with Asian languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. 

While the translation is not perfect, I think it leverages the tremendous power that smartphones are placing in the pockets of many of our students.