Instant translation of foreign languages to native ones is a luxury commonly thought impossible. Imagine being able to translate a menu written in Japanese into English while sitting in a restaurant in Japan. The new WorldPenScan X digital pen for scanning and translating from Fremont, California-based PenPower USA does exactly that.
Using Bluetooth 4.0, the device recognizes multiple languages, barcodes and bank fonts, and will immediately translate and edit items in multiple applications. Recognized languages include Arabic, Chinese, English, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. The user can transmit the digitized data to an iOS device or Mac or Windows PC computer. Backers who pledge $99 as part of a Kickstarter special will get a WorldPenScan X when it ships in April 2015. That’s $70 less than the expected $169 retail price. PenPower is looking to raise $30,000 by the end of January. The same company’s WorldPenScan BT sells on Amazon.com in a similar price range, but doesn’t support iOS.
If it works as seamlessly as its campaign video claims, WorldPenScan X could be an appealing product for many consumers. However, some will likely feel that free apps available on their mobile devices already perform the same basic tasks using their built-in cameras. PenPower points out that several steps are required when using a mobile device’s camera to scan and translate. Sometimes, if the ambient light isn’t good enough, that could severely impact the recognition accuracy of the camera. In conclusion, WorldPenScan X will have to work flawlessly, especially when it comes to translating, for consumers to see the device as worthy of their time and money.