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Waygo is a mobile app that is changing the way tourists, business travelers, and expats experience Asia. Using optical character recognition (OCR), Waygo instantly translates Chinese and Japanese characters (more languages coming soon) to English with no Internet connection required. Just point your smartphone to the text you want to translate.

Waygo is the brainchild of Ryan Rogowski, who got the idea for the app a couple of years ago when he was working in China developing mobile games. Rogowski was learning Chinese and found it very difficult. After he returned to the US, he and his team worked on Waygo’s proprietary algorithms for about two years. According to the startup, Waygo is five times faster and two times more accurate than ABBYY, the leading commercial OCR software.

Available on the iPhone and Android devices, Waygo has been featured in The New York Times, LA Weekly, ABC News, Los Angeles Times, Popular Science, and Discovery Channel. Waygo is based in San Francisco and was part of the 500 Startups fall 2012 class.