In a world where travel is so extensive and necessary and social networking bridges the gaps between international friendships, language barriers are all the more infuriating. Various technology developers have recognised the potential vulnerabilities in social, economic and commercial fields with regards to language differences and have raced to meet the needs of a host of consumers with translation technology. For some, translation technology seems so advanced that it is almost fictional. For example, Microsoft’s Skype Translator, offers automatic conversational translations between people conversing in different languages. The technology has been compared to Star Trek’s Universal Translator gadget in Star Trek.
Translation technology will enable businesses to expand further internationally as well as support their customers to enjoy transactions and platforms with greater speed and ease. Firms such as eBay are hoping to adopt and develop translation technology that will allow customers to instantly message each other in their native language and have the contents translated immediately into the recipient’s language. The marketplace platform also aims to make use of Apptek, software which will enable sellers to list their items and have the details translated into the language of any prospective buyer.
Many companies are recognising the benefits of real time translation technology, which allows them to carry out meetings, multi-national sales platforms, customer support and a host of other business benefits. A recent new app, SpeechTrans, offers pioneering technology that translates conference calls in real-time. The firm declares that it’s platform is able to process any length of conversation with translation capabilities in no fewer than 44 languages. With competition from the likes of Skype and Google Translate, this is one of the quickest developing fields in translation technology. As more companies utilise the benefits of such tools, the appetite for development will increase and some of the world’s leading technology providers are expected to get behind existing platforms or even create their own systems.
Google has been one of the most reliable and well-used translator platforms for some time, though the basic service is limited to translating typed words and offering a verbal pronunciation. It is therefore not designed to be used as a streamlined tool for conversation and as such, Google are committed to enhancing their offerings. Last year, the search engine giant purchased Quest Visual, the developer of the Word Lens app. This exciting app translates photo images such as signposts, letters and instructions. The purchase was motivated by Google’s desire to amalgamate the technology with their existing Google Translate facilities in order to cement an enhanced and wider translation service.
On a personal level, translation technology is becoming increasingly popular and valuable. With worldwide travel becoming more accessible and less costly for many, the possibility of direct and instant translation is appealing. Designs such as Pilot earphones, which are marketed as the first ‘smart earpiece’ allow for translation of two languages at a time which enables the wearer to understand the words of those speaking a different language. In fact, the technology is so advanced that if both people are wearing the earphones, their conversation will be immediately translated, much like when using tools such as Babel Fish, but without the inconvenience or distraction of a computer or handheld device. Presently, this technology allows for translations in English, Spanish, French and Italian.
Translation technology even extends to visual apps, predominantly available on Android and iPhone. Apps such as Waygo offer exceptional support to users who need to translate Japanese or Chinese signs and menus, much in the same way as the Word Lens app work. The app captures a scanned image on the camera of the phone and immediately translates the text and is marketed towards tourists who need support in understanding signs and menus whilst in these countries. Waygo eagerly report to be adding further languages to the platform to enable translations in more countries in the near future to promote a world with minimal language barriers.
Arguably one of the most exciting developments in translation technology is that surrounding sign language. Kinect Sign Language Translator has worked alongside Microsoft and Xbox to develop a translation tool based on the sensory camera of the gaming console. The camera will pick up the motions of the sign language and translate into text and spoken word, meaning that translation technology is capable of bridging more that language barriers and connects the deaf with a much larger environment.
The future of translation technology seems almost boundless, with developers eagerly working to connect people more quickly, more easily and with lower costs. The gaps between foreign languages and signing are becoming increasingly smaller and the accessibility to translation tools continually easier.