Waygo is an app that is changing the way expats, tourists, and business travelers experience Asia and pictorial languages.
Utilizing a combo of both Optical Character Recognition and a translation piece, Waygo translates Chinese, Japanese & Korean characters into English text by seeing images, finding the relevant text, and finally creating sensible phrases. Waygo does not require an internet connection to operate. Companies that enter the field of OCR spend many years getting their solution to work, let alone be any good. We are no different. Our team has been working on our in-house, proprietary algorithms for about two years and it has paid off. When benchmarked against ABBYY (the top commercial OCR) our software is five times faster, two times more accurate, and a tenth of the file size.
Before Waygo, Ryan was working in Beijing at Thinknao and learning Chinese. He hails from Naperville, IL and studied electrical engineering and linguistics at University of Illinois. He speaks Mandarin and passed the new HSK 5 fluency test. Also enjoys snowboarding, motorcycles, and backpacking.
A Rhode Island native, Kevin returned home after completing a Masters in Electrical Engineering at Colorado School of Mines. Before Waygo, Kevin almost took a position as an Apprentice Brewer at a local microbrewery. Kevin enjoys brewing and drinking tasty beer, cooking, baseball, the ocean, dogs, and playing music. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your hands on his complete cover (instruments and vocals) of Nirvana’s 1991 release, Nevermind.
Before Waygo, Huan-Yu was in research at Boston University after finishing his Masters in Image Processing. Fun facts? Although born and raised in Taiwan, Huan-Yu has never been to mainland China. He can recognize thousands of pieces of classical music, even able to guess the composer of a piece he’s never heard.
A surfer at heart from southern California, Ryan first landed in China 10 years ago without any Chinese language skills. He has since worked for the US Olympic Committee as a head translator at the 2008 Beijing Olympics among many other adventures in China. Fun Fact? He once dogsledded to the northern tip of Sweden to sleep under the northern lights. Cool, right?
Peter's innovations in unmanned systems have helped turn science fiction into reality. Playing a key role in the development of the first operating system for unmanned aerial drones, the technology he developed has been featured in publications such as Wired, Forbes and Businessweek. Peter has an appetite for exploring and immersing himself in different cultures. He has spent time traveling all across Asia. When he's not creating awesome software you can find him surfing or jumping out of airplanes.
Originally from South Africa, Herman is an avid traveler who has lived for several years in both Taiwan and Japan, and once spent a year traveling as a nomad through Asia. Having started programming at a young age, his passion is using computers to solve real-world problems.
Hosting international exchange students growing up resulted in Ali’s passion for cultural exchange. During college she studied abroad in Nanjing and worked in the USA Pavilion at 2010 Shanghai Expo. Has a tie-dye clothing biz for babies and loves to rollerblade.
The idea for Waygo came about two years ago as Ryan was working in China building mobile games. He was in the process of learning Chinese and found it extremely difficult, especially for someone used to romance languages. If only there were a tool that he could look up characters by simply pointing a phone camera at the text, his--and many others--lives would become much easier. At first the idea was an educational tool, but eventually it grew in Ryan's head that this could help any traveler in any country see with new eyes. Ryan, Kevin, and Huan-Yu met in Providence, RI through the Betaspring incubator program where they founded the company, created the first prototype, and eventually launched their first alpha version of the app.
The team was then invited to the 500 Startups accelerator program in Mountain View, CA where they grew the team and launched their first fully-featured, premium version of Waygo. We decided to first focus on China and the East Asian market because that's where our team had the most experience and it was also the most difficult batch of languages to solve and we were up for the challenge! Our roots have provided a solid foundation and we are excited for what we have in the works--improvements and future app versions.
Waygo helps travelers go to a foreign country, or 外国 (“wài guó”) in Chinese. After discovering Americans have difficulty pronouncing Chinese, we adapted the pinyin to the English language.
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