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Google improving Google Translate with Word Lens app acquisition

Google improving Google Translate with Word Lens app acquisition

The company is acquiring Quest Visual, maker of the camera-based translation app

Quest Visual's app translates printed words using the smartphone's camera.

Quest Visual's app translates printed words using the smartphone's camera.

Google is planning to add more smarts to its Google Translate service by acquiring Quest Visual, developer of the Word Lens camera-based translation app.

Quest Visual said Friday that it was joining Google and incorporating its technology "into Google Translate's broad language coverage and translation capabilities in the future."

Terms were not disclosed. Google declined to comment further on the record.

Quest Visual's app, which has been available on iOS, Android and even Google Glass, is pretty nifty. It uses the smartphone's camera to translate printed words from one language to another in real time, without needing a network connection. It's meant to be used out in the world or while traveling, on big signs and menus. Books? Not as much.

The app supports a variety of languages including Spanish, French, German, Italian and Russian. Both the app and the various language packs are free to download for a limited time while Quest Visual transitions to Google, the company said.

Google has some image recognition tech with its Goggles app, which can read text and translate it. But in Quest Visual, the company probably sees the potential for enhanced applications targeting language.

Google is known, too, to gobble up smaller companies and incorporate their technology into its own services. C'est la vie.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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