Another take on OCR

Ok I admit it. I watched Star Trek when I was younger. And universal translators were damn cool. Of course a part of me hated the idea, since learning the language is almost as much fun as actually using the language, at least some times.

So I’m a big fan of things like Pleco‘s OCR. I only wish more people were providing such tools. It would be insanely useful for quick-skimming Korean, for example. Today, somewhat late to the game I admit, I came across WordLens. While not really related to China or Chinese in any way, it’s still pretty cool and worth sharing.

Basically, it uses the camera like Pleco’s OCR, but instead of overlaying the glyph and giving you a translation, it actually changes the words on the screen. Right now it’s only Spanish-English or English-Spanish, but it works really really well. You can download a free tech-demo version, but to actually do the Spanish thing you need to pay USD9.99. Still, the tech demo is impressive enough.

There are a million reasons why this wouldn’t be a reasonable thing to do with Chinese, and at least in my opinion Pleco does just what it should. That said, the one thing I do wish Pleco had is an equivalent of DocScan‘s OCR processing, where I could just snap a regular old photo of that housing agreement, employment contract or the thing the police just handed me, then have it come up as text. The current OCR still-image processing is close, though.

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