In yet another triumph of technology, a new application has been created that enables cell phones and other portable devices to translate foreign-language food menus into English.
It could be useful for people who have to follow restricted diets for medical reasons.
"You type in the menu listing and the application translates it automatically without talking to a server," said Mireille 'Mimi' Boutin, an associate professor in Purdue University's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
"It only takes a fraction of a second, you don't need connection to the Internet and it won't empty your battery," she stated.
Before entering a foreign country, the user would download a region- and language-specific configuration and database. From then on, the system can operate without a network connection.
The user types the desired dish into a prompt field in the graphical user interface. The text is translated, and the best possible translations are then listed, along with other information, including pictures and ingredients.
The user can then browse the multimedia database to obtain more information about the dish or the ingredients. When appropriate, information and questions for the waiter are suggested.
The discovery was presented in July at the IEEE International Conference on Multimedia and Expo in Barcelona, Spain.