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Google buys visual translation app “Word Lens” for Translate

Quest Visual announced today it has been acquired by Google and will be joining the Translate team:

With Word Lens, we’ve seen the beginnings of what’s possible when we harness the power of mobile devices to “see the world in your language.”

By joining Google, we can incorporate Quest Visual’s technology into Google Translate’s broad language coverage and translation capabilities in the future.

As a thank you to everybody who supported us on our journey, we’ve made both the app and the language packs free to download for a limited time while we transition to Google.

We’re looking forward to continuing our work at Google – stay tuned!

The app, which debuted in 2010, features versions available on both Android and iOS (it was even featured in Apple’s latest ad) and has a Google Glass version for translating languages on the fly. It’s ability to translate text in real life scenarios using the smartphone camera and behind-the-scenes intelligence is quite sophisticated so it’s a good fit for Google’s portfolio.

Per Quest Visual’s announcement, Word Lens will lend its smarts to the Translate team at Google, and it’s somewhat similar to features found in Google’s own Google Goggles app which takes advantage of the smartphone camera and artificial intelligence to perform a number of tasks including text translation.

As for acquisition details, no price has been disclosed for the purchase but Word Lens appears to reside on the more casual side of recent mergers and acquisitions unlike Google’s $3.2 billion deal for Nest.

As part of the transition, Word Lens has made the translation packs within the app free to unlock for all users. Previously, these language packs were paid content within the otherwise free app.

Word Lens is available for Android 2.3.3 and up on the Google Play Store.

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