Google Testing Smartphone Speech Translation

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It seems that Google is continuing its push into strange territory with news that the search giant is working on translation software that would see users able to translate speech directly.

Word comes from the Times of the Google project that it believes could well be the early steps of direct speech-to-speech translation, using smartphones as the middleman. This is something that Google has already started pushing towards with the speech recognition technology in versions 2.0 and 2.1 of its Android mobile operating system.

Indeed, according to Google’s Franz Och during his interview with the Times, we can expect to see some fairly intriguing translation tech coming out of the search giant in the not-too-distant future. Och was fairly open about the possibilities of the tech, saying that,

“We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonable well in a few years’ time … Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on.

If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently.”

It’s certainly some very interesting stuff, and has the potential, one day, to turn smartphones into something like the Star Trek-styled universal translator, which we’d undoubtedly all be sceptical of until we found ourselves lost on holiday, at which point it’d be another one of those must-have smartphone features.

In the meantime, we can look forward to the usual amount of inter-language awkwardness for the foreseeable future.

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