Your world, with subtitles

August 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm 4 comments

Pleco, maker of Chinese dictionaries for smartphones, announces a very sexy OCR add-on for the iPhone. If the final product is anything like the demo, it’ll be blazingly fast. Watch the dictionary entries come up as the phone is panned across the text.

You can also change the OCR window size, varying it from one character to a whole phrase.

It takes advantage of the better video camera on the iPhone 4; I’ll be interested to see how it performs on my 3GS (with iOS4).

Of course they’re demoing the app recognizing text in a book. But you know I’m going to take it out into the world and try it on signage. Product labels at 99 Ranch grocery. Marquees in Oakland Chinatown. Specials on the Chinese-only menu! Pleco Camera Recognizer doesn’t look like an augmented reality app, but it is. Or it could be.


Entry filed under: Learning, Mobile. Tags: , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ellen Francik  |  August 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Bonus geek points for using “Lord of the Rings” as the sample text.

  • 2. Sharon Minsuk  |  August 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Oh, that’s awesome! Although now, in a Chinese Restaurant I might actually know what I’m eating. Wonder if that’s such a smart idea! 😉

    I don’t think I knew about your blog… saw it in LinkedIn update! Will subscribe. 🙂

  • 3. Ellen Francik  |  August 24, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    My friend Bahir, who travels in China frequently and knows expats living there, cautions that deciphering the menu doesn’t mean you’ll know what the dishes actually are.

    Wind-lulling cake. Powdered gold and minced jade.

    The very first Sichuanese dish I learned to make was Ants Climb a Tree: spicy minced pork sauteed with fine rice vermicelli.

  • 4. Sharon Minsuk  |  August 24, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Hah, that’s funny. Actually the same was sometimes true when I was in Austria. “Moor in a shirt”, anyone? (Arguably racist name for a dessert, chocolate cake with a white sauce, if I remember correctly.) And totally local, non-standard German names for dishes, so a dictionary was of very little help.

    The Chinese sound more beautiful and poetic, though. 🙂

    I’d love to give this product a try, one day!


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