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Communications Hardware Technology

Google Shooting For Smartphone Universal Translator 178

nikki4 writes to tell us that in giving some major improvement tweaks to its existing voice recognition tool for the Smartphone, Google is aiming for new translator software that will provide instant translation of foreign languages. "The company has already created an automatic system for translating text on computers, which is being honed by scanning millions of multi-lingual websites and documents. So far it covers 52 languages, adding Haitian Creole last week. Google also has a voice recognition system that enables phone users to conduct web searches by speaking commands into their phones rather than typing them in. Now it is working on combining the two technologies to produce software capable of understanding a caller’s voice and translating it into a synthetic equivalent in a foreign language."
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Google Shooting For Smartphone Universal Translator

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  • by slyborg ( 524607 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @06:17PM (#31066096)

    ...this is a recipe for universal worldwide hilarity.

  • by qoncept ( 599709 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @06:22PM (#31066168) Homepage
    Does anyone use voice recognition software? Here are a couple of my voicemails transcribed by Google Voice:

    Hey man, Hello, this is gonna ask you about Stockton uncle in a missed your call, so, so give well. Okay bye.

    Hey it's me and I for me. Long, My of the day. So Hey Jared, Here doing. If you come for another anti, gimme a call before you go to sleep and stuff, so give me a favor you familiar with it. I love you bye.
  • by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @06:28PM (#31066240)

    Google is in the business of collecting data and applying it to practical problems. I imagine the voice-to-text will be vastly improved over its generations by users accepting/rejecting the vtt result and them pooling the results data. The same thing could be done for translation from one language to another.

    I see it as crowdsourcing the algorithm accuracy checks among millions of people, allowing them to improve the algo at a much faster rate than they (or their competitors) would otherwise be able to do in a closed testing environment.

    This is all speculating on the fact that google pools results of translations or VTT and whether the user accepts/declines them. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if they did.

  • by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @06:44PM (#31066460)

    Considering that human languages follow rules that are as convoluted and transient as Calvin-ball I'd say they do an admirable job. Machine translation is really an amazing challenge.

  • Got NSA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @07:34PM (#31067056) Journal

    This seems like something that the NSA is probably salivating over. Imagine being able to translate intercepts in near real time with accurate voice recognition. I'm sure they already have imagined it. That technology is nothing short of a Manhattan Project for the SIGINT community.

  • As a professional translator and interpreter, I also agree that Google has done better than anyone else, and that that's still not particularly good by objective standards. I've been using their Translation Center (NOT Google Translate) for a while now, and I've seen their translation memory evolve before my eyes.

    The basic problem, however, is that the computer doesn't actually understand what it's spitting back to you. It only spits back the translations others have provided for similar phrases. It doesn't know if they're any good. Sometimes they're surprisingly good, and sometimes they're bizarrely bad.

    There's a lot of ambiguity in human writing, and even more so in speech. Even assuming you hear the words correctly, it's tricky to tease out the precise meaning they wanted to convey, and trickier still to re-express that in another language, with appropriate cultural and regional context.

    Google will get better and better at parroting good translating and interpreting decisions, but software will never be able to make those decisions, because, in the final analysis, they are subjective decisions.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:33AM (#31069088)

    I've been using the google App on my iPhone to speak my searches and it is amazingly accurate. For some people its approaching 98% accurate in the voice recognition portion.

    Way better than a fish in the ear.

  • by vertigoCiel ( 1070374 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:56AM (#31070488)

    The translation party [translationparty.com] equilibrium:

    I, Google Maps and do a link and, please, I do not think it is successful. Aruuebu, all Web search experts, to discuss the background of existing knowledge. In addition, various efforts and vision, dedication, today (U.S. time askjeeves, wolphramalpha etc.) lead. But this has obviously reached the foreseeable future. However, the search is very useful.

    Similarly, from the perspective of our toilet, I can eat, and to translate the conversation reaches the end of a universal translator, the parties, to purchase a backup location to buy me a house helpful must. If there is a need for war and peace, I am one of only two of 11111111 / 100 of the Treaty in all bilingual machine, I can do anything in order to understand them very is convenient to convert to respect the delicate negotiations, if the authorities.

    (To find the "equilibrium", it translates the paragraph into Japanese, then translates that result back to English, and so on, until output n = output n+2).

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