Google working on speech translation for phones

Head of translation services Franz Och tells The Sunday Times that the search giant is closing in on speech-to-speech translation.

Babel Fish
Gizmodo

Google already runs a successful online translator, Google Translate, but they've got far-loftier ideas than simply converting the written word. They want to translate languages spoken over the phone, according to their head of translation services.

Speaking to The Times, Franz Och, Google's head of translation services, said:

"We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years' time.

Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that's what we're working on.

If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently."

It's not really clear as to whether Google wants to translate a phone conversation, or conversation around you (for example, ordering food in a Japanese restaurant). If it's the former, I'm unsure as to whether I'd actually use the software, although booking hotels in other countries might be one example.

But then, when everything's done online these days--and effective online translation services like Google Translate and Babel Fish exist--Google might find that by the time they launch translation software on a phone (presumably Android), it's too late and everyone can speak English by then anyway. I hope that's not the case, though.

See also: At a loss for words? Google offers search by sight

This story originally appeared on Gizmodo.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
Tech industry's high-flying 2014
Uber's tumultuous ups and downs in 2014 (pictures)
The best and worst quotes of 2014 (pictures)
A roomy range from LG (pictures)
This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)
Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)