By Chris Scott Barr
If you’ve never read The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I’d suggest picking it up. No, watching the movie definitely doesn’t count. One of the coolest ideas (of which there were many) in the book was the Babel Fish. It was a fish that was inserted into your ear, and magically translated any spoken language into one that you would understand. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Yahoo has a text translation service that shares the name.
So why am I babbling about the Babel Fish today? Because it would seem that Google is working on a bit of technology that will work in a similar way (but thankfully without inserting a fish in your ear). Their new speech-to-speech translator will take a person’s words and translate them on-the-fly while on their phone. The software would be installed on the speaker’s end, so that it can adapt over time to the person’s individual voice and speaking patterns, thus resulting in a better translation.
It would seem that this software is still in an early development stage, understandably so. As it is, their speech-to-text translations via Google Voice are laughable. My most recent message was from someone at “James Dot” telling me that my copy of “I Was Shocked” was in, and reminding me that I could bring some “James” to trade in towards the price. (The key words mis-translated were GameStop, Bioshock and Games, for those playing along at home.) Needless to say, I hadn’t the slightest clue who had called until I listened to the message.
VIA [ TimesOnline ]