by Deric W. Prescott
Across the globe, there are several dozen languages. Not even the most talented and well-educated person could have a fluency in all of these dialects. In the past, if you wanted to travel to a foreign country, you would have to carry with you a pocket dictionary and look up each and every word that was unfamiliar to you. Now, that task has been made easier by a product developed by Seiko called "Quicktionary™." At its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 10, 1998, consumers were amassed at the usefulness of such a product. "If you read or translate different languages and get stuck, just scan the word with this gadget for a translation."
Quicktionary™ is a portable optical dictionary that is able to scan various typefaces and translate that word or series of words (if it is a phrase) into your native language. "An American can take a Spanish word, it will recognize the Spanish word, and give you the English translation of that." Quicktionary™ is available in several different language combinations. The Spanish/English version, for example, has a database of over 480,000 words. Currently, Quicktionary™ comes in versions for French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Japanese, Dutch, and English with the ability to translate between and among these languages.
Quicktionary™ works by scanning text into its memory and then instantaneously looking for any close matches to the word that has just been scanned. According to Seiko, Quicktionary™ can recognize more than 430000 words that are printed at 300 dots per inch (dpi). Additionally, it is able to interpret most normal fonts, even italic, negative, underlined, from 8 to 14 points. According to the technical support staff for the makers of Quicktionary™, "normal fonts" include any of the four default true type fonts included with Windows 3.1x and higher and many san serif fonts. Quicktionary has been able, on several trials, to decipher "script" type faces but its accuracy is greatly diminished. After scanning a word, Quicktionary™ will display its interpretation of the word scanned. If the word displayed on its three line display is correct, then by pressing the "translate" button, Quicktionary™ will quickly find the translation.
Quicktionary™ also has a scroll feature to allow you search the dictionary for similar words and phrases and also includes a keyboard by which you can type words into Quicktionary™ that simply won’t scan, or are hard to scan. Examples of when the keyboard can be utilized include small text, text on glass, or verbal words. According to Seiko, Quicktionary™ "translates much faster than any other paper (a.k.a."dead tree interface") or electronic dictionary and can be set for left-handers."