Google picks up Quest Visual to beef up translation

Steven Loeb · May 17, 2014 · Short URL:

Quest Visual is the company behind virtual translation app Word Lens

(Updated with comment from Google)

Google Translate is the worst. The worst. I cover a number of releases that appear in foreign languages, especially Chinese and Russian, and the translations that result on Google are often completely incoherent, garbled messes.

I don't know why that is, but there have been way too many times that what comes up is completely useless to me. Now, hopefully, the company's latest acquisition will finally bring the service to the level it should be,  and perhaps even beyond that.

Google has purchased Quest Visual, the company behind translation service Word Lens, it was announced in a short blog post put up by Quest Visual on Friday.

No financial terms of the deal have been disclosed, but the company does make it sound as though its technology will be incorporated into Google's at some point in the future. 

"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,'" the company wrote. "By joining Google, we can incorporate Quest Visual's technology into Google Translate's broad language coverage and translation capabilities in the future."

With its a strong team, and great technology, Quest Visual will be a good addition to Google’s translate team, a Google spokesperson told VatorNews.

Google and Quest Visual already have a relationship: Word Lens was integrated into Google Glass back in November

Word Lens, which debuted in 2010, is an app that allows users to translate printed foreign words into English using the Google Glass camera. All the user has to is look at a sign and it will automatically translated. Pretty cool stuff, right?

Its easy to see why Google was so quick to incorporate it into Glass, and it will be interesting to see what else the company does with the technology now that it owns it. Presumably, it will be used to strengthen Google's translation abilities on mobile.

Google has been on a bit of a spending spree so far this year, gobbling up 12 companies in all.

It has purchased Bitspin, the Zurich-based maker of the Timely clock app; cyber security Impermium; artificial intelligence company Deepmind; sound authentication firm SlickLogin; ad fraud detector; Android game developer Green Throttle Games; drone manufacturer Titan AerospaceRangespan, a back-end solution for online retailers; ad attribution company Adometry; restaurant website builder Appetas; and cloud monitoring service Stackdriver.

And, of course, the company bought smart thermostat company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion, the most the company has ever spent on a startup acquisition.

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