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OT - Google Translate Camera app usefulness


Hot Rolled
Feb 24, 2013
Santa Cruz
I just posted this at the end of someone else's thread and it dawned on me this might be good information for anyone and I should post it here also.

I use a Samsung phone so apologies if this works different on Apple phones.

If you want to have a translation of something all you have to do is point your phone at it. Download the Google Translate app and the specific language you want to translate. Then just select that language and put it in camera mode.

I have a Doosan CNC mill and it had labels in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, French, English. Same for manuals. This has been helpful for lots of manuals in Chinese or other languages.

This is the spindle chiller on my Doosan. It has lines in English, then French, Chinese and lastly Korean. Notice in Korean mode it translated just that line.



Then on a air filter/regulator:



Be aware it is an active translation it will slowly change as you keep the camera on it. So if it seems like nonsense to start just keep the camera there and wait.

This obviously works on manuals, tags, menus, just about anything that the font isn't completely cryptic.

Hope this helps some people.


Diamond; Mod Squad
Mar 27, 2005
Northwest Indiana, USA
Although I too use this app, it is readily apparent that Google Translate is in need of some more "machine learning." Translation isn't usually a very linear exercise - things rarely translate directly from one word to another in different languages - phrasing is different, word order is different, etc. Any who have learned foreign languages can tell you that.

All that said though, if you don't speak any foreign tongues, this app can at least give some inkling of the meaning of what would otherwise be unintelligible gibberish.