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Translation-Glasses

Glasses that Translate Speech?

It might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but according to Reuters, a Japanese company is developing eyeglasses that can translate speech.

The Tele Scouter consists of a pair of eyeglass frames attached to a microphone and a small computer. A tiny display unit is mounted on to the frames. When someone talks to you in a foreign language, the microphone picks up the sound and sends it to be translated. Then, the translated text is sent back and projected into your peripheral vision, so you can read what the other person said while still maintaining eye contact.

Weird, huh? Kotaro Nagahama, a manager at NEC, the company that’s the developing the glasses, explained the potential advantages of the new technology to Reuters:
“With this you don’t have to think about having to translate your own words. All you have to do is speak and you don’t have to do any thinking. You just use your own language.”

Unfortunately, according to PinkTentacle.com, at this point the devices’ translation capabilities are “insufficient for real-world applications.” So, at least for now, the company is focusing on selling the device to businesses and factories, which can use as a hands-free data display device for workers.

Also, it should be noted that even if the devices’ translation capabilities were spot-on, in order for it to truly useful for travelers, both you and the person you are speaking to need to have a pair of these magic glasses. Unless the company plans to incorporate a way to display what you are saying to the other person in their own language, the Tele Scouter appears to only translate one side of the conversation.  According to Reuters, NEC plans to sell the Tele Scouter for a whopping $83,000, so it’s not likely to gain widespread adoption anytime soon.

What do you think-will this idea ever become more than science fiction?

Translation by Siri

Siri may have difficulty understanding English when it is spoken in a Scottish accent, but Apple’s virtual personal assistant now has another trick up her sleeve: translation.

A team of developers recently introduced an app called Lingual, which turns Siri into your own personal translator, allowing your iPhone to translate spoken words and phrases into 30 different languages. All you have to do is ask Siri “How do you say “_____” in “_____?” and a translation will appear on your screen in the language of your choice.

Before you venture off to another country with your iPhone in hand, though, there are a few drawbacks to consider. The first, as reported by The Verge, is the simple fact that Lingual’s translation capabilities are far from perfect.

“We installed the tweak and can report that it works flawlessly, quickly pulling in results using Microsoft’s Bing Translate API as a backend. Its only limitation is that backend, which isn’t as strong as Google’s offering, and regularly fails to correctly translate phrases.”

Poor translation is a pretty big limitation, isn’t it? Google Translate has issues enough, so you may want to think twice before relying on this app as your sole means of communication.

Another potential issue: in order to use Lingual, you must jailbreak your iPhone if you haven’t done so already. Not that big of a deal, but it does make installation a bit more complicated than simply firing up the app store and downloading it.

Finally, if you are travelling, you may be charged extra for using data while roaming. That means that you may end up paying an arm and a leg for Lingual’s translation services when you get back home – not a good way to end a vacation! It’s not as flashy, but you might be better served by downloading a translation application that is stored on your phone and doesn’t require access to your carrier’s data network.

Translation Gone Wild: 5 Translation Mistakes from 2017

Over the past year, machine translation has made significant progress. Tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are building powerful Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems modeled after the human brain.

NMT offers improved accuracy compared to older machine translation systems. To hear the headlines tell it, that means all of our translation problems are solved. Who needs a human translator when you’ve got artificial intelligence?

But if that were true, we wouldn’t have these amusing translation mistakes to share with you, would we?

Google Can’t Translate the South African Parliament


Voice-to-text translation sounds amazing, in theory. Just speak into a microphone, wait a few seconds, and “Voila!” The system automatically translates your words, and you don’t even have to lift a finger.

And it is amazing when it works. But therein lies the rub. Regional accents and dialects can throw these systems off.

For example, the video above shows what happens when Google tries to translate a South African Parliament session.

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