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AR translation tools help you translate documents on-the-go

(OPINION EDITORIAL) While augmented reality translation services aren’t exactly brand-new, they’re definitely helping to bridge the gap between potential language barriers.

Last week, my extremely handsome boy had a routine medical appointment at our local veterinary clinic. As he’s officially a senior citizen these days (he celebrated his quinceañero back in April), regular checkups are key to help ensure he stays spry and healthy. And while he’s definitely a trooper, he does have a few medical conditions (namely, an overactive thyroid and early stage kidney disease) that requires regular monitoring.

When we got to the vet clinic — bright and early on a Sunday morning, right at 9 o’clock — we were advised to call the front desk for intake. As our city is still actively practicing social distancing, we weren’t permitted to join my little buddy for his appointment. Instead, we were to call and report our parking space to the receptionist, then pick up a slip of paper to describe our little guy’s current health concerns.

Except…there was one small issue. The vet’s office had run out of English intake forms, and we had to pluck a Spanish one from the tray affixed to the door. Um. Right. About that. I know that my last name sort of hints that I speak at least a modicum of Spanish, but sorry to disappoint, my friends. Fortunately, my devastatingly brilliant and sexy spouse does speak Spanish, so all was well, and we were able to get my Wooks checked in without issue.

But in that panicked moment of somehow forgetting that my husband is Mexican (the heck?), I longed for a way to be able to translate that intake form without having to Google it word-by-word.

Enter: augmented reality translation. This nifty technology doesn’t require you to fastidiously plug in words in your online translator. Instead, it relies upon your camera to help translate words to and from various languages.

Now, this technology isn’t exactly brand-new, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been a few kinks that had to get worked out over the years. Early iterations of these translations have been blatantly erroneous at best and hilariously wrong at worst. These days, however, the technology has vastly improved, making AR translation the newest frontier in communication. By merely pointing your phone at an object, you can read the words in your native language on the screen.

Of course, perhaps the easiest workaround is me taking the time to crack out the ol’ Duolingo app on my phone and reacquaint myself with my language studies. Or I could call my in-laws up and beg them to help me practice my Spanish (See also: I’m painfully shy). Nevertheless, until I do finally se habla español, AR translation services will have to be the next best option for me.

And if my little stud of a kitty needs another appointment at the clinic, and they happen to be out of English intake forms again, I can be sure that the app’s got my back. Many thanks, AR translation technology. You came in clutch, and I’m very grateful for your hard work. (O…puedo checar con mi esposo. Si. Me voy a hacerlo. Derp. Te amo, mi amor, y muchas gracias por su ayuda!*)

*Please don’t make fun of my Spanish. Yes, I know I’m a dork. No, I can’t help it.

Karyl is a Southern transplant, now living on the Central Coast with her husband. She's proud to belong to two very handsome cats, both of which have made it very clear as to where she ranks on the social hierarchy. When she's not working as an optician, you can either find her chipping away at her next science-fiction novel or training for an upcoming race. She holds an AAT in Psychology, which is just a fancy way of saying that she likes poking around inside people's brains. She's very socially awkward and has no idea how to describe herself, which is why this bio is just as dorky and weird as she is.

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