For all the promise of mobile technology, there’s still not a whole lot an intrepid adventurer can do to break the language barrier besides, well, learning the language. Your options short of that include: using those pocket dictionaries that are like day-glo “TOURIST” signs, rolling the dice on an app that does the translation, or reading nothing while hoping for the best.
So it’s exciting to see videos like this. A team from Japanese mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo created augmented reality glasses that scan for text in Japanese, translate the text through an online database, and display the translated version. It’s not the first gadget to tinker with the idea, but it’s at least one of the first wearable versions. The demonstration in the video here is just a look at a simple menu, so it’s not clear how advanced the glasses might be by the time of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a tourism wave the company’s looking to cash in on. But even a simple guide to the local cuisine could be a boon to a hungry foreigner.