Cool Tools: Word Lens

Folks who have attended our seminar on Teaching with iPads have heard me talk about the major benefits of mobile devices and how they relate to learning. Particularly, the characteristics include:

  • Location awareness
  • Remote engagement
  • Continuous updates
  • Collaborative
  • Creative
  • Informative
  • Organizational

These add up to a just-in-time information juggernaut! All info, all creative, all connected, all the time! (but not in the creepy way….we’re looking at you advertisers!) Just-in-time computing derives its name from Just-in-time production methods for manufacturing, where you build only what you need at the time. In this way, a just-in-time computing model gives you just the information you need at the moment you need it. Where this is a great computing model that can augment any learning process (and we’d love to talk more about, if you want to incorporate it into your class), it often times takes an example to show its value.

Enter Word Lens. This free (for now) app was recently acquired by Google, but provides some incredibly advanced tools for real-time visual language translation (Non-nerd speak translation: point your phone [or Google Glass, which I suppose just means, look] at a sign written in a foreign language and Word Lens will translate it into the language of your choosing). It’s the science-fiction world you were promised so many moons ago! Have a look at a before and after shot provided from their iPhone app page:

a bunch of Russian that I can't understand after_WordLens_screen568x568

You can look at this in two ways: this is really cool technology that is specific to the world of language translation, OR the possibilities that this sort of technology opens up are astounding! How far do you think we are from a world where someone could look at a multiple choice test, and Siri or Google Now could automatically fill in the correct answer on a display contained on a pair of glasses, or even a contact lens. That’s the difficult classroom problem, but on the plus side, think of how you could build tools to affect the world in a similar way. With computing power like this in a mobile device, you have to believe that the content creation capabilities are there too. Let’s see how we can build this together.


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Posted in Cool Tools, The Exchange

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