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The future is certainly now with this interesting new iphone app developed by Quest Visual.

In a mix of image recognition technology and augmented reality, the app, Word Lens, functions by having the user point their iphone camera at a foreign language sign and having it instantly translated in video by the app on their iphone.

Watch the video here to get a first-hand look at how the app works.

The amazing thing about this app is that not only do you get instantaneous translation of text, it goes so far as to remap the text, colour, font and perspective whatever you happen to be are looking at, be it roadsigns or menus. It doesn’t really work on handwritten text, but it does work on other fonts pretty well. Although the translation isn’t perfect, it certainly can carry the point across.

Thus far, the app itself is free, while the translation feature (currently only available in English-to-Spanish and vice versa) is a paid add-on costing US$5 and it’s available now at the itunes store.

This is one of the first augmented reality software I’ve seen that actually puts practical use of the technology, and it’s available now! Imagine all the language barriers it could break when more language databases are available to the app. Now combine this with another app that could translate the spoken word and we would very well be working towards something like a universal translator, and doesn’t that sound like something straight out of a science-fiction movie?