Press “Scan” to translate! Can it really be that easy? According to Xerox, the answer is “Yes.” Last month, the company released Xerox Easy Translator, a new feature for some of its multifunction copiers and printers.
Here’s how it works: Insert the document you wish to translate, select one of 35 available languages, hit a button and wait for the machine to spit out the translation.
Tech news sites were duly impressed. For example, The Next Web called Xerox Easy Translator
“[J]ust another cool thing that shows how far in the future we live. We might not have flying cars, but we can feed bits of paper to a machine and have them come out magically in another language, which is amazing.”
Meanwhile, in a press release, Bertrand Cerisier, Xerox VP of global marketing for the Office Solutions Business Group, credited the technology with “bringing an innovative capacity for localization to organizations both large and small and in all countries” by making it easier to upload documents for translation using multifunction printers and smartphones.
But how innovative is Xerox Easy Translator, really? And should you use it for your business?
Xerox Easy Translator combines a suite of technologies that have been in use for years.
- Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, which “reads” texts on scanned images or pictures.
- The ability to upload documents to the cloud for processing.
- Machine translation.
Nothing new here, really. Adding these features to one of the most boring pieces of office equipment certainly ups the “wow” factor, though. What’s really interesting here is the business partnership between Xerox and ABBYY LS, which handles human-sourced translations.
Xerox Easy Translator: Should You Use It?
The big draw with Xerox Easy Translator is the ability to insert your document into the copier and instantly print it out in another language. But here’s the thing. The “Instant Translation” feature uses machine translation (of course). While you can get a translation very quickly, don’t expect it to be accurate. As Xerox notes on the product website:
“Machine translation results are draft translations allowing you to receive an instant, editable document regardless of size. As an additional benefit, you can quickly decide the appropriate type of professional human translation service needed.”
Machine translation has made great strides over the past few years. That said, we’re a long way from Star Trek. Want accuracy? You’ll need to pay for a human, just like always.
Actually, forget accuracy. According to Xerox, you should consider paying for their “Express” Service merely to ensure “coherent and fluent translation results.”
“Express” translation (machine translation edited by a human so that it makes sense) is .10 per word. “Professional” translation (done by a human for accuracy) is .23 per word. “Expert” translation is $.35 per word.
The standard machine translation service costs between $.05 to $1 per page, depending on how many pages you think you’ll need to translate.
This may make sense for occasional translation. But what if your business has frequent, ongoing translation needs? Wouldn’t it make more sense to partner with a translation agency?
These days, there’s more to translation services than just straight translation. Global businesses often need help with transcreation, tweaking or even reimagining marketing campaigns so that they work in other countries and cultures.
Also, Xerox touts the convenience of being able to translate documents while keeping the same design and format. But translated content often requires changes in design and typesetting to make sense and look good in the target language.
As usual with solutions that depend heavily on machine translation, when you really dig down you can see that the use cases for business and government are more limited than they seem at first glance.
If you’re going to be using translation services on a regular basis, it’s probably a better idea to work with a translation company directly. And as with most service providers, it’s best to choose one yourself so you can find the right fit. With Xerox Easy Translator, this is already done for you and you don’t get to choose the company you work with.
Need help? See “How to Choose a Translation Company” for more details on how to find a great translation provider.
And of course, you should never use the machine translation option for any situation in which clarity and accuracy are important. You can’t afford to take the easy way out when your business reputation is on the line – no matter how cool it might look or how “magical” it might seem.
The bottom line? Don’t get sucked in by “shiny object syndrome.” What’s important is that your content makes sense and engages customers in all of the languages you choose to do business in. For that, you need a trusted provider who understands what you’re looking for.
What do you think of Xerox Easy Translator? Would you use it?