Google buys Word Lens app that uses your smartphone's camera to translate languages

In an attempt to bolster its translating services, Google has acquired developer firm Quest Visual and its Word Lens mobile translation app.

Quest Visual updated the Word Lens webpage on Friday to confirm the acquisition: "Quest Visual is joining Google! With Word Lens, we've seen the beginnings of what's possible when we harness the power of mobile devices to 'see the world in your language.' By joining Google, we can incorporate Quest Visual's technology into Google Translate's broad language coverage and translation capabilities in the future," explained the company.

Word Lens not only translates printed words from one language into another using your smartphone's video camera in real time but also doesn't require a network connection to work. The powerful technology will now become a part of Google Translate, a multilingual statistical service provided by Google that translates written text from one language into another at no cost.

You can therefore expect Google Translate to become a lot more useful and cooler in the future. Meanwhile, while Quest Visual transitions over to Google, the developer firm has made both the Word Lens app and the language packs free to download for a limited time. Quest Visual specified that it will continue work while at Google, so this buyout appears to also be an acqui-hire of sorts.

Word Lens is available for iOS, Android, and Glass - and it supports languages like English, Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, and Spanish. Watch the app's trailer above for more information.