The newest Google knockoff: Google Goggles Translation

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 2.16.10 Google CEO Eric Schmidt demonstrated a prototype version of Google Goggles that showcases the integration of Google’s machine translation and image recognition technologies. Mr. Schmidt demoed the ‘new’ concept by taking a picture of a German menu with a cellphone and instantly translating the text into English. Check out the video on the Google Translate Blog.

There is just one little problem. The ‘new’ feature Mr. Schmidt presented was introduced one year ago at the Mobile World Congress 2009 by Spanish company I wrote a blog post about this which you can read by clicking here. You can check out this feature on their website.

Google is a great company and they have great products. But is everything they do the world’s greatest breakthrough? Are all of their ideas original? Evidently not.

5 thoughts on “The newest Google knockoff: Google Goggles Translation

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  2. There were also several other companies who had basic mobile solutions taking pictures, OCRing and translating them as long as 3-4 years ago. I have a slide deck from a company who showed this concept off in early 2007.

    Google does get more publicity but they are increasingly taking other people’s ideas and pretending to have invented the concept.

    I like to say that the the Google business model is: You Give We Take

    and the motto is really: Don’t be Evil except if it’s inconvenient ;-)

  3. Thanks David for the reference :-)

    We demoed that first in MWC 2007 (Feruary) with an old Nokia with a not-so-good 2M pixel camera.

    After that, the organization of MWC deployed our solution for Mobile Asia Congress 2008 and MWC 2009, where we also presented our first international deployments with the solution.

    Integrating an OCR with MT is pretty easy, the point is to robustly detect the text in images (this is what we do, although still improving), and the Google prototype selects the text in the app (maybe a more robust solution).

    We do that for Asian languages as well, which is far more complicated!

  4. Thanks Kirti and Diego for those comments.

    I just wish that Google would acknowledge that this is not a new invention, but rather a refinement of an idea that has been around for a while.


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