It’s an unfortunate situation that just about every foreign traveler has encountered: You take your seat at a restaurant, ready to sample some of its traditional favorites, only to be handed a menu that’s impossible for you to read. After staring at it for a couple of minutes, hoping that it will somehow magically become decipherable, you leave your meal to fate and point to something, hoping that when it comes out of the kitchen it’s identifiable, first of all, and second, something that you’re actually willing to eat.
Well, those days might soon belong to the past, at least for travelers heading to China. A new app, called Waygo, uses Optical Character Recognition to detect Chinese characters and translate them for you, simply by opening up the app and pointing it at whatever you’re hoping to read. And instead of just translating individual characters, it actually can translate whole strings of them, which makes it ideal for short bursts of text, which happen to be most common on restaurant menus.
One TechCrunch writer tested out the app, and found that while it wasn’t perfect, it at least helped out somewhat.
And in this case, somewhat is a whole lot better than nothing.