November 30, 2007

NEC simplifies the voice translation problem

NEC announced research-level technology that lets a cellphone automatically translate from Japanese into English. The key idea is that they are generating text output, not speech, which lets them sidestep pesky problems about accuracy. I.e. (emphasis mine):

One second after the phone hears speech in Japanese, the cellphone with the new technology shows the text on the screen. One second later, an English version appears. …

“We would need to study how to recognise [sic] voices on the phone precisely. Another problem would be how the person on the other side of the line could know if his or her words are being translated correctly,” he said.

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