New reo app Kupu translates images in real-time

By Jessica Tyson

As part of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori a mobile app has been launched to help people learn te reo by translating the names of objects in real-time.

Users of Kupu can simply take a photo of an object and the app will use image recognition to identify what the object is and provide the Māori translations for it.

Spark, Te Aka Māori Dictionary and Google launched the app to show how digital platforms are fun for all New Zealanders and useful for the national language.

Senior Lecturer at AUT and Māori language researcher at Te Ipukarea Dr Dean Mahuta has been a key advisor on the project.

“Using technology and digital platforms is a great way to encourage the use and learning of te reo Māori.  Te Aka Māori Dictionary has over 300,000 visitors to its website per month, with over 50 percent of those visitors being new users,” says Mahuta.

“There are some amazing resources for learning te reo Māori, including books, websites and apps.  However, this is the first learning tool to translate pictures in real-time.  It’s an evolution of the resources that are out there.”

Creative director at Google Tara McKenty says it would be amazing if all New Zealanders could learn together through an immersive interactive experience “one picture and translation at a time.”

“Just learning a single word each day can collectively have a huge and lasting impact on our collective knowledge of te reo Māori.”

Kupu is made with Google technology which is constantly learning and evolving.  The app will improve its existing translations with the moderated feedback it receives over time.