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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Now, a software to translate as you speak on phone

Bangalore: Internet giant Google, which has also made an entry in the mobile world with its own phone Nexus One, is working on a software which will interpret foreign languages as a person speak. The translation is done almost instantly and Google hopes to have a basic system ready within a couple of years, reports Chris Gourlay of Sunday Times.

Google has already developed an automatic system for translating text on computers, which is being polished by scanning millions of multi-lingual websites and documents. So far it covers 52 languages, adding Haitian Creole last week.

Recently Google also launched a feature where a user can search on the search engine by saying the key words instead of typing. 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. The phone would analyse "packages" of speech, listening to the speaker until it understands the full meaning of words and phrases, before attempting translation. "We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years' time," said Franz Och, Google's Head of Translation Services.

Although automatic text translators are now reasonably effective, voice recognition has proved more challenging. "Everyone has a different voice, accent and pitch," said Och. "But recognition should be effective with mobile phones because by nature they are personal to you. The phone should get a feel for your voice from past voice search queries, for example."

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