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Japanese glasses translate menu as you read

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An engineer with Japan's telecom giant NTT Docomo wears a head mount display (HMD) to touch an animation bear for a demonstration at the preview of the Ceatec electronics trade show in Chiba, suburban Tokyo on September 30, 2013 (AFP/File)

Augmented reality glasses that can translate a menu in real time were unveiled at a Japanese gadget fair Monday, with promises they could be ready for visitors to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

NTT Docomo was showing off its latest development where cameras, computers and know-how combine to give the wearer a whole different view of what they are looking at.

One function of the gizmo overlays the wearer's first language onto unfamiliar text, making signs and menus instantly understandable -- a boon to travellers in Japan, where foreign-language menus are not commonly found off the tourist trail.

"Character recognition technology enables instant language translation for users travelling abroad and reading restaurant menus and other documents," Docomo said in a statement, as it showcased the gadget at CEATEC Japan.

Another application turns any flat surface into a touchscreen, with a finger ring relaying positioning information to the device that lets wearers "touch" tags that only they can see, perhaps to perform an Internet search.

Other uses include facial recognition that is intended to look up someone's identity -- and job title -- from a smartphone's directory.

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