Google is testing a new technology which can capture and translate text from an image file.
The new feature was demonstrated at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and will be part of the Google Goggles image-based search engine.
The service attempts to recognise text within the image file, and then runs the words through a translation service.
"On the simplest level, this prototype connects a phone's camera to an optical character recognition engine, recognises the image as text and then translates that text into English with Google Translate," wrote Google scientist Hartmut Neven in a blog post.
Google developers hope that the service will appeal to mobile users who travel often and need to quickly translate posted or printed text.
The prototype is limited to German and English translation at present, but Google hopes eventually to expand it to all 52 languages in the Google Translate service.
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