For Windows Phone users Bing has just released their free Bing Translator app for Windows Phone 8. Continually one of the most popular apps in the Windows stable, the translator combines so called “Augmented Reality Translation” via users’ cameras to translate text along with other modes of use. As a mobile search component, the new app would seem to have great implications.
While not spanking new technology, Bing’s app using a user’s camera, with speech & text translation technologies combined, plus adding in little learning features such as “word-of-the-day”, gives Windows Phone fans have a powerful tool at their disposal now.
Aside the implications for travel, like being a local and “understanding” in a foreign land, etc., the technology behind the translator app here will likely lead to more dramatic future iterations for search tools. For one instance, object recognition algorithms, combined with the appropriate database driven information system, can help smart device users accomplish fantastic (futuristic) tasks.
That’s fodder for another article, but for Bing search, this little app announcement bears notice if for nothing more than catching up with Google and Android a bit. Search, particularly with the proliferation of mobile, may be in for a sort of quantum leap soon. Without over stressing what Bing and Microsoft are up to here, let’s also consider the down side of using your Windows, Android, or Apple device to point at stuff and “recognizing” same.
As Joel Hruska over at HotHardware pointed out in September when reporting on Google’s shiny new patent:
“…The privacy implications of such an automated system or enormous. Facebook’s own automatic facial recognition software was highly controversial when it debuted, and what Google has now patented puts Facebook to shame.”
Okay, Bing just announced a translation app that helps people understand languages, sure. I am not suggesting Microsoft is up to anything Machiavellian here, it’s just that competition with Google and others tends to make corporations push the envelope too. The thinking person has to ask; “If Microsoft (Google) can tie in a massive linguistic database to solve for language via images, what other databases might be employed?” Users?
Now that I have interjected some food for thought, back to this very cool looking language (relevance) tool. With version 126.96.36.199, Windows Phone users get the added WP8 support to go with the already powerful features of version 2.2 (Quicker app startup, Faster installation of language packs, and the ability to delete individual items in history), and version 2.1 (Copy/paste of translation results, Swapping the languages with a single tap).