“Universal translators” have fuelled science fiction plots for decades, and building such a device
has long been the Holy Grail for tech-oriented linguists. However, the prototypes that have appeared so far have used machine translation. Over the past few years, machine translation has improved by leaps and bounds, but it’s still not precise enough to be relied upon for complex conversations.
That may soon change. A new start-up called Babelverse has an incredibly ambitious goal: putting real-time, human-powered translation at the fingertips of everyone with a mobile device like a computer or smart phone. Basically, the service connects you with an interpreter working remotely, and is supposed to cost about the same as placing a phone call. Babelverse can also set up interpreters for conferences, saving the expense of arranging for on-site interpreters. The conference industry is the main focus of their business at the moment, and the founders expect to leverage it to provide for further expansion. Read more