Saturday, January 22, 2011

Find: Google unveils Conversation Mode for Translate app

Mentioned in class: voice to speech translation on android. And word lens, camera to screen translation.  Ben

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Google unveils Conversation Mode for Translate app

Jacob Aron, contributor

The universal translator is here - if you don't mind huddling around your phone to carry on the conversation.

English-speaking Android owners can now converse in Spanish thanks to a new version of Google's Translate app. The experimental Conversation Mode, currently only in "alpha" testing, analyses English speech and reads out a computerised Spanish translation. Native Spanish speakers can then respond in their own language and have it converted back in to English.


A microphone button for each language makes the app extremely easy to
use, and instructions are provided in both English and Spanish. You will
need a data connection for the translation to work, but as long as the
app has access to Google's vast computing resources you'll get the
result back instantly. Be sure to speak up loud and clear, as Google
product manager Awaneesh Verma
warns that the app may struggle with "regional accents, background
noise or rapid speech". Even perfect aural clarity won't guarantee a
proper translation, since Google admits that the statistical techniques
it uses aren't always accurate.



Google first demonstrated the technology last September with a conversation in
English and German but the new app only supports English and Spanish
conversations for now. Don't cancel your trip to Berlin just yet though,
as speech-to-speech conversion is supported from English to German,
French and Italian, but since these languages currently don't work with
the Conversation Mode interface your interlingual chat may be a little
one-sided.



Despite these limitations, the new app suggests that we'll soon be
throwing away our foreign dictionaries. The search giant is almost
certainly working to add support for additional languages as part of its
continuing efforts to increase the capabilities of Android phones -
earlier this week it released a new version of Google Goggles that can solve Sudoku puzzles.



Google's preference for its own mobile platform also means that iPhone
owners are currently limited to using the web version of Google
Translate, which doesn't include Conversation Mode, but Apple fans have
their own translation tool in the form of Word Lens.
While it won't help you carry on a conversation, the app does translate
foreign language signs captured with your phone's camera. Even the US
militar...


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