Although major cities in Japan have installed signs in both Japanese and English, many foreign travelers still face difficulties reading the text found on things like menus, product packages, and billboards. That may all change thanks to NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile phone operator, and their new glasses that are capable of almost instantly translating Japanese text.
Officially called “Intelligent Glass,” this impressive gadget was unveiled at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) fair in Japan. The head-mounted display is similar to Google Glass and utilizes information from remote servers to translate Japanese, Korean, Chinese and English text. The device is also capable of recognizing faces, eliminating the need to remember names or carry around business cards, and can turn any flat surface into a tablet with the help of a special ring worn on the user’s finger.
NTT DoCoMo promises to have the glasses ready in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, an event that will see thousands of foreign tourists visit Japan, most of whom are presumably unable to read the Japanese language.
With iPad apps that can instantly interpret speech and these new kanji-reading glasses, it’s starting to look as if sometime in the near-future, we can all rely on technology to do the Japanese learning for us. Until then, I’ll be continuing my never-ending quest to master this crazy language.