Ryan Rogowski, CEO and Cofounder of San Francisco based Waygo Translation App believes that within our lifetime, we’ll be able to translate and speak multiple languages fluently with the help of technology.
“I think language as a barrier is being solved and it’s an exciting time to be part of the industry. With globalization happening so fast, there’s this giant problem. But the base technology and hardware is pretty much already there. It’s just now improving the research and software to get things done efficiently for you.”
Waygo is an augmented reality startup that focuses on visual, real-time translation for Asian countries (currently Chinese, Japan and Korea). All you need to do is point your smartphone’s camera at the words in question and the app will translate into English in seconds, translating your desired foreign dish is made easier. It gives users an in-depth knowledge of foreign cuisine by providing detailed images of how food dishes are prepared while browsing restaurant menus.
“Waygo has evolved as a premier menu translation app that encourages travelers to live and dine like the locals, without the worry of ordering the wrong menu item.”
The Waygo team had researched Chinese restaurant menus, covering the top 4,000 dishes, and providing 14,000 curated images. By using a combination of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and offline image processing, Waygo will provide an English translation of each menu item you scan. Plus, you’ll be able to order correctly as well, as the translation feature has been used more than 8 million times by many satisfied users.
Ryan’s other partners Huan-Yu Wu, had a strong background in computer vision. While, Kevin Clark was interested in natural language processing and travel. Ryan had found the perfect team. They spent a year and a half building the whole computer vision technology in house. They now claim 3 US patents and a lot of moments where they wanted to give up in between the 1.5 years. Ryan recalls running out of money once or twice during that one year. He shared, “Before we had our product finished, we ran out of money so we had to take on consulting projects on the side to pay the bills.”
Ryan references a relationship with one of their early investors, who first thought that what Ryan was trying to do was impossible. He shared, “When I told him the idea, he told me it was impossible but I went back to him after the 1.5 years and demoed the product. He was ready to write a check right there.”
Ryan is spending a lot of time talking with potential partners and corporations they can work with to integrate the Waygo technology. He believes that the translation technology and industry is advancing very quickly with a lot of advancements happening in machine learning technology and natural language processing. Ryan shared, “We’re also starting to build out a licensing model basically taking our technology and integrating it to a variety of products including travel, education, scanning and more.”
Waygo hopes that other companies will use their software development kit (SDK) that they launched this year. Ryan says “long term, I see what we’re doing evolve into wearable technologies and even using similar technology to augment things.”
Waygo will offer 10 free translations per day, but if you wish to acquire unlimited translations, you can purchase it for only $6.99 per language, or $11.99 for the full translation package. It’s available for download for both Android and iOS devices. If you’re looking for a hip place to work this sound like a good place to start.