Saturday, March 24, 2012

Star Trek Universal Translator Arises




This has always been one of those all too obvious technical problems clearly solvable by technology when performance and speed aligned to allow it to happen.  This work suggests that we are effectively on the last leg of the journey to having a true universal translator.

The actual addition that I find welcome is that the output is done in the voice of the user.  Thus this can be used to enhance language training itself.  The student is asked to mimic his own voice rather than that of a teacher.  I suspect that this could produce accent free language training.

And of course, right behind all this we have two way voice communications across any language barrier.  We forget that it does not take all that much comprehension to understand each other in the first place as the mind will almost subconsciously fill in the blanks once we are used to each other.

It does help to have a person’s lips moving also, but we can not have everything.

Star Trek becomes reality as Microsoft 'Universal Translator' turns spoken English into any of 26 different languages



PUBLISHED: 14:27 GMT, 13 March 2012 | UPDATED: 18:54 GMT, 13 March 2012


It has long been used by James T Kirk to speak to aliens and blue women from space - but now Microsoft is on the brink of making a real, working Universal Translator.
Frank Soong and Rick Rashid have created software which converts English language speech into any of 26 foreign languages - and which 'speaks' in the user's own voice. 
All the user has to do is speak English into the machine and it will convert it into anything from Spanish to Mandarin.

###

William Shatner as James T Kirk: The new device is similar to the Universal Translator used in Star Trek, and takes around one hour to get used to a person¿s voice then works by comparing the words that have been recorded with stock models for the target language

###

Frank Soong and Rick Rashid have created software which converts English language speech into any of 26 foreign languages - and which 'speaks' in the user's own voice

The hope is that the device will one day allow visitors to foreign countries to have conversations with other people, even though they do not speak the same language - just like in Star Trek.

Mr Soong told Technology Review that his breakthrough could help language students and might also work with navigational devices.

In theory it could one day be installed into a smart phone meaning tourists have a ready made translation device sitting in their pockets.

Mr Soong said: ‘We will be able to do quite a few scenario applications.
‘For a monolingual speaker traveling in a foreign country, we'll do speech recognition followed by translation, followed by the final text to speech output in a different language, but still in his own voice’.

Mr Soong and Mr Rashid work at Microsoft’s HQ in Redmond, Washington.
They created the system with colleagues at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, the company's second-largest research lab.

The two Microsoft researchers believe the technology could be used in smartphone translation apps


In Star Trek it was supposedly introduced in the late 22nd century and helped the crew of the Enterprise communicate with aliens as they explored the universe.

Mr Soong and Mr Rashid however have made their version today, even if the voice which comes out in the foreign language still sounds a little mechanical.

Their device needs around one hour to get used to a person’s voice then works by comparing the words that have been recorded with stock models for the target language.

The technology has been designed so that it does not just translate words, which would give it a computerised and disjointed sound.

Instead the sounds are carefully manipulated to mimic real speech as realistically as possible.


Read more:
 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2114379/Star-Trek-reality-Microsoft-unveils-Universal-Translator-turns-spoken-English-26-languages.html#ixzz1pVofFYhH

No comments:

There was an error in this gadget