Yesterday, the blogosphere was abuzz with Google CEO Eric Schmidt's Mobile World Congress demo of translation capabilities in the Google Goggles visual search application.
Hartmut Neven, the man who assisted Schmidt with the demo at MWC in Barcelona, Spain, also released a YouTube demo clip of this feature.
This integration connects an Android smartphone's camera to an optical character recognition engine, recognizes the image as text and translates that text into English using Google Translate. Check it out:
If Neven's demo is any indication of where this is headed, users will eventually be able to stop cross-referencing menus, road signs and other text written in other languages with their translation guides, as Neven noted:
""Goggles translation is a prime example [of] what can happen if you have a sensor-rich device connected to cloud computing.""
The potential for this integration is huge, particularly when you consider the boon to consumers traveling abroad. Imagine being able to abandon that cumbersome translation book, a well-trodden cliche in movies, and get translations by simply shooting pics with your smartphone.
Currently the translation only goes from German, Neven's native language, to English. Clearly, there is a lot more work to be done.
Indeed, Google's goal is to enable Google Goggles to translate all of the 52 languages currently supported by Google Translate.
The progress for Goggles so early on is exciting. I first covered Goggles back in December after Neven unveiled the application in a CNBC interview.
Yes, it's buggy, but when it works for books, CDs and other items, it's great.
Google clearly recognizes the potential for image-based search, making Goggles a featured app on Android 2.1 so users no longer need download it from Android Market.