If you have ever traveled to a country outside your own and were faced with road signs, maps, menus, or other important information in a foreign, unreadable language, you may be interested in PicTranslator. PicTranslator is an innovative iPhone application that turns the iPhone camera into a translator. Using this app, iPhone owners can take a picture of foreign text and have it translated into a language they can read.
PicTranslator, recently featured at New and Noteworthy on the App Store, is one of the applications produced by the team at Fotozio, LLC a Seattle-based company focusing on developing useful apps that are missing from the iPhone app market.
With a great idea and a great team, Fotozio needed somewhere to host their application. “We chose Amazon Web Services for three reasons: reliability, scalability, and value. Having used AWS for other projects and having terrific experiences, including 100% uptime on our EC2 instances, we knew AWS would be reliable,” recalls Aaron Jensen, CTO, Fotozio.
PicTranslator leverages the suite of AWS infrastructure services to scale their highly CPU-intensive workflows. Jensen describes their architecture: “Pictures taken with PicTranslator are submitted to one of several servers hosted on Amazon EC2, behind an Elastic Load Balancer; our servers are monitored by Cloud Watch and include auto scaling triggers to spin up new instances when they are under heavy load; once a translation has been completed, we store the results in a combination of Amazon SimpleDB and S3.”
In addition to using AWS APIs and the AWS Management Console, the Fotozio team uses several third-party tools for managing their AWS resources, including Elastic Fox, S3 Organizer, and the AWS Eclipse Plugins. They also utilize a couple open source libraries to dynamically access their data in SimpleDB: Simple Savant and ThreeSharp.
Jensen shares their affection for AWS, “We love the fact that EC2 is infinitely, and almost immediately, scalable. When we get spikes in traffic, it’s easy to bring up new instances, drop them behind our load balancer and keep our response times low. When traffic lets up, the ease with which we can terminate instances means that we’re not wasting money on hardware we’re not using.”
“The value AWS provides is pretty amazing. Of course the EC2 rates are competitive and the virtually infinite, low-cost storage is great, but on top of that, the free usage of SimpleDB has proven extremely useful. Once we familiarized ourselves with some of the intracies of the SimpleDB paradigm (no relations, eventual consistency, etc.) we found ourselves storing more and more in there.”
“I can say, with some level of certainty, PicTranslator and Fotozio wouldn’t exist without AWS. AWS is one of the few hosting providers we know that makes it possible to manage virtual machines in a way that’s both scalable enough and affordable enough to make sense for mobile application development. Mobile apps are a low-margin, high volume business, and AWS makes it possible to generate revenue even in relatively stark business environments.”
(Published December 2009)