Posts

12 Powerful Translation Apps and Devices for Travelers in 2017

You’d love to see the world, but fear holds you back. You’re afraid of being isolated in a foreign country, unable to speak the language. How are you going to communicate? Charades? Well, stop worrying, and book those tickets! Here are 12 futuristic translation apps and devices for travelers in 2017 to help you get your point across.

This post was originally published in 2016. It has been updated for accuracy and to include new apps and devices. 

Best Translation Apps: Google TranslateTranslation Apps 1

When it comes to translation apps, Google Translate is obviously the elephant in the room — and for good reason. It supports more languages than the competition, and its comprehensive feature set makes it especially well-suited for travelers.

Languages: Google Translate offers varying degrees of support for 103 languages:

  • Type to translate: 103 languages
  • Offline support: 52 languages
  • Real Time Video translation: 30 languages
  • Camera Mode: 37 Languages
  • Speech-to-speech translation: 32 languages
  • Handwriting translation: 93 languages

See which features work with which languages here.

Cool Tricks: Translate signs, menus and other written content using your phone’s camera. Offline support for some languages, plus excellent integration with the Android operating system for translating text messages and websites.

Recently, Google added neural machine translation (NMT) for improved accuracy on some languages.

All this, and it’s free. Free is good.

How to Get It: Download it from the App Store or from Google Play.

Read more

Google Logo

Google to Help Translate European Patents

Google just announced that they now have an agreement with the European patent office to translate patents. According to the International Business Times, Google will use their automatic translation software to translate patents into 29 EU languages.

This is important news because the EU has been trying to implement a standard patent system for all of its member nations but thus far, translation disputes have kept that from happening. The original proposal called for patent documents to be translated into English, French and German only. Naturally, this left Italy and Spain feeling somewhat neglected.

Since the patent process has not been standardized, according to the International Business Times it actually costs businesses about 10 times as  much to patent an idea in the EU  as it does in the US. Per European Patent Office president Benoit Battistelli, the agreement with Google will hopefully make the proposal more acceptable to the countries that have so far refused to accept it:

“The deal is a kind of compensation for those countries so they can accept the idea that for economic reasons it’s necessary to choose only a few languages and not to use all of them.”

Read more

Automatic Sign Language

We’ve all seen TV shows and movies make use of subtitles for the hearing impaired. However, for many deaf people, it takes more effort to decode the English words used in the subtitles than it would to understand the material if it were presented in their native tongue: sign language.

In an attempt to address this issue, the NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories just released some interesting new technology: a system that automatically translates spoken language into  sign language using an animated virtual avatar.

As the researchers who developed the system explained to Akihabara News, “Subtitles are fine for people who understand Japanese, and who lost their hearing at some point. Meanwhile, people who are deaf from birth learn sign language first, naturally they study Japanese after that, but they find that sign language is easier to understand than subtitles, so we are conducting research in sign language.” Read more