Google acquires maker of real-time translation application

Google acquired Quest Visual for an undisclosed amount on Friday. That company is known for the Word Lens app, which can be used to translate messages in real time with a smartphone camera.

Quest Visual announced the acquisition through a statement on its website. The statement states that Google wants to use the company’s technology for Google Translate, so that the functionalities of the translation program can be expanded. It is likely that Google wants to use the technology mainly for mobile devices, because it has been working on that for several years.

It is not known what Google paid for the software maker. It is also not clear when exactly the takeover will be completed. Quest Visual does say that in the meantime, it’s offering the Word Lens app and accompanying language packs for iOS, Android, and Google Glass for free “to thank everyone who has supported us on our journey.”

The Word Lens application was announced in 2010 and was the result of years of development. The app recognizes the text via OCR and can translate it in real time. After that, the original text is filtered out of the image and the translated text takes its place.