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Waygo Translation App takes you out for Chinese

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.

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