Q&A: West Virginia University student creates a language translator app

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A West Virginia University student created an app that extracts text from a picture and enables you to translate the text between multiple languages. The app, called HÖBOscan, was created by Oyebola Odukoya, a computer engineering and electrical engineering student. The free app ranked top 60 in productivity apps on the Apple App Store since its recent release. Odukoya sat down with WBOY over Zoom to talk to us about his app.

Q: Can you describe a little bit about what the app is and how it works?

A: It’s like a scanner, so you take a picture of some text, and then it uses artificial intelligence to try to read what you wrote, and then it displays that to you. Then, you can translate it to around 70 languages. So you can do Chinese, Mandarin—it’s all there.

Q: What inspired you to make this kind of app?

A: I just wanted to make something cool. I was thinking, what is cool? What if you take a picture of something–because you can take a picture, but then a picture is not what you want. You want to get the text so you can edit it, instead of typing it out. So, I thought that would be cool to be able to take a picture of something and get the image to text. And then, the translate [feature] was like, why not add that in?

Q: How long did it take for you to make this app?

A: Like three weeks. I was working every day for three weeks. Even when I was sleeping, I was thinking about how to fix something that wasn’t working. But, it wasn’t too much. It was like two to three weeks of 24/7 work.

Q: What’s next for you? Are you going to make more apps or just work on this one still?

A: I’m going to work on it again, but that’ll be like sometime next year. What I want for it is, say I take a picture of a document. I want you to be able to get the document almost exactly as it is, almost as if you took a picture of it, but then you’re able to still edit it, if you know what I mean. So it doesn’t just get the text, it gets the shapes, it gets the colors. It gets all of that, and then it’s something that could really be used in the office. That’s the direction I want to go with the app.

Maybe next year or the next time I get time. But right now, I’m working on some other projects. Right now, the big one is I’m trying to make a smart touchscreen mirror. So, it’s a mirror, kind of like the one you have in your bathroom, but then once you touch it, it becomes almost like an iPad sort of thing. So it’s like, I’m brushing my teeth and then I can listen to music. I can do a bunch of things, but it’s still a mirror with apps. That’s what I’m working on right now…Usually every summer, I try to do a bunch of projects. These are just some of them.

HÖBOscan is available for both Apple and Android devices.

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