Google launches free phone app that translates conversations while you speak. The service to operate in real-time within 18 months.
Posted January 17, 2011on:
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction but internet giant Google has defied language experts by launching a mobile phone application that allows users to translate conversations as they speak.
Google Translate can use devices running its android operating system to allow people to hear their own words in English read back to them in Spanish, and vice versa, as the person at the other end is translated too.
Users will have to press a button to activate the translation between sentences but, astonishingly, Google say they expect the service to operate in real-time within 18 months.
It uses similar technology to the updated Goggles application, which uses a phone’s camera to snap images of sudoku puzzles and, via the internet, whiz back the solution in seconds.
Google Translate works by recording the user‘s speech, sending the recorded words to the company’s vast servers, which then send back an audio translation.
The ‘Alpha‘ trial version works only in Spanish and English but Google expects to add new languages soon.
In December an iPhone app called WordLens became an internet sensation after a video demonstrating how it uses the iPhone‘s inbuilt camera to recognise text that is viewed through the lens. It too only worked with Spanish and English.
Google already has an online text translator and while early versions of it sometimes produced little more than gobbledegook, it‘s ever-growing database of words has now enabled it to achieve far greater accuracy.
It now covers more than 52 of the world’s estimated 6,000 language.