How Do You Say…?
The evolution of translation technology hastens global communication
Tech / 22 Feb 2011
According to Star Trek, we shouldn’t expect the universal translator until 2151, but with some recent advances in translation technology, that day might arrive sooner. With progress like this, could a Babel Fish be expected? Probably not. But what about The Singularity? Maybe...
Word Lens:
Within 72 hours of being posted online, the Word Lens demo video received 1.4 million views, and that number has since doubled. To the amazement of people everywhere, the Quest Visual translator tool works like magic. The mind-blowing augmented reality app uses the iPhone camera to capture and translate any text it sees, translating foreign words in real-time. That’s right: no more unintentionally wandering off the beaten path or unknowingly ordering obscure organ meats: Travelers in foreign lands can decipher street signs and menus just by holding up a phone running the Word Lens app. At $9.99 for an English-Spanish or Spanish-English translator pack, travelers can now officially trash their bilingual pocket dictionaries.
Google Translate App:
Those who fancy the Google Translate web tool will be pleased to know that there is also an app for that. Now available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, the Google Translate App can interpret more than 50 languages on a mobile-friendly platform. The artificially intelligent application allows (both Apple and Android) users to speak a word or phrase and receive an instant audio translation, along with on-screen text that simplifies sharing by being easy to enlarge. What’s more, users can browse a history log when they’re offline, making it optimal for travelers lacking a consistent network connection and/or trying to avoid data charges. But don’t drop out of that foreign language class just yet…even Google isn’t perfect.
Twitter Translation Center:
Twitter recently launched a Translation Center to make itself more accessible to its growing global audience. With seven languages offered, and Indonesian, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish on deck, the Twitter Translation Center invites users to volunteer feedback on translations. That’s right—Twitter is crowdsourcing translation, much in the way Facebook did in 2008. It’s not the individual tweets being translated (though there are many tools for that), but rather the actual services—Twitter.com; Twitter’s mobile, business and help websites; and Twitter’s mobile apps for Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems. Social media has played a prominent role in international affairs recently, and with Katie Jacobs Stanton now working on global strategy, we can expect more demand for translation as that phenomenon continues.
©The Intelligence Group