New Google Glass Rival Can Instantly Translate Text

Dennis Faas's picture

A Japanese phone company is working on a pair of spectacles that can automatically translate text. The device works even if the user is looking at a language with a different alphabet system.

The device is produced by NTT Docomo and is known as 'Intelligent Glasses'. It's only a prototype at the moment, but was recently shown off at an electronics show in Japan.

The glasses feature a frame-based camera and a transparent lens that can display information to the user.

Among the main uses: translating text from documents before a user. Unlike some visual translation tools, the system can recognize English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters.

At the moment the device takes only five seconds to read and translate text, though this could be sped up in a final version.

Intelligent Glasses Can Jog Your Memory

But translating text is only one of the Intelligent Glasses' features. Another is facial recognition; the idea is that when you see somebody, the glasses can use facial recognition to provide you important details about that person, from their career history to personal interests.

That could be useful for business people who deal with a lot of clients or suppliers.

The glasses can also be paired with a small device that fits onto a finger like a ring. The glasses can then recognize where the finger is placed, project an image onto the lens, and effectively turn any flat surface -- such as a table top -- into a touchscreen display.

As with Google Glass, the system works by exchanging information with a nearby smartphone that has an Internet connection.

It's worth noting that the NTT Docomo device is much bulkier and less attractive than the lightweight Google Glass hardware. The company says it's still working on the technology and will refine the design if and when it goes on sale. (Source:

Gadget May Appeal to Specialist Audience

So, will people actually buy Intelligent Glasses?

A tech consultant quoted by the BBC said it was unlikely people would buy the glasses just to translate text, meaning NTT Docomo will need to ensure consumers are aware of all of the device's features. (Source:

Other analysts have suggested "tech spectacles" might command a high price for highly specialized uses. For example, an engineer could use the Intelligent Glasses to pull up a service manual just by looking at a vehicle or piece of heavy equipment.

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