Japan’s largest mobile network, NTT DoCoMo has recently launched a real time translator app for the telephone that allows for people in Japan to speak to foreigners with both parties speaking in their native language, and so understand each other.
The Android app, called Hanashite Hon’yaku is the latest in a series of translator apps to be launched this year. Unveiled at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies show (Ceatec) in Japan earlier this month and planned for launch on 1 November, the app will initially convert Japanese to English, Mandarin and Korean, with other languages to follow including German, French, Italian, Thai, Portuegese and Indonesian.
After speaking into the phone and after a slight pause, the app translates what the speaker has said into the receiver’s language. It then provides a voice readout as well as screen text version of the message.
The app makes use of cloud technology with the firm saying in a statement that ”Fast and accurate translations are possible with any smartphone, regardless of device specifications, because Hanashite Hon’yaku utilises Docomo’s cloud for processing.”
Other companies outside Japan are also working on similar services.
Microsoft is also working on a technology it calls the Translating Telephone. Microsoft admitted that one of the biggest challenges with the technology is programming it to recognise the ways people pronounce words differently and still manage to detect the correct translation.
France’s Alcatel-Lucent is working on developing WeTalk designed to work on landline telephones. The company uses a technology that captures the user’s voice and applies speech recognition software. The data is then run through translation software before being run through a speech synthesiser.
Lexicone, an Israeli startup also recently launched a translator app and is working with BT and Telefonica to offer the service to its customers.
Back in the U.S. California-based MyLanguage, is working on voice and text translations during video chats via its Vocre app for iPhones.
However much development and progress is being made in telephonic and video translation technologies, it’s possible lack of accuracy is certainly a concern and puts into question its appeal for corporate adoption.
What do you think of the emergence of these translator apps?