Google attempting Smartphone Universal Translator – 09/02/2010

I guess we all knew it was coming, and we will simultaneously gnash our teeth and scoff at it’s ability – personally I like the idea – even Magellan had to start somewhere…

According to this article at the Times Online, Google is developing software for smartphones to do instantaneous voice translation, “hoping for a basic solution within a couple of years”.

They are approaching the problem by combining two products that already exist in their stable – voice recognition for controlling the phones, and an automated system for text translation.

“Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on.

“Everyone has a different voice, accent and pitch,” said Och. “But recognition should be effective with mobile phones because by nature they are personal to you. The phone should get a feel for your voice from past voice search queries, for example.”

The translation software is likely to become more accurate the more it is used. And while some translation systems use crude rules based on the grammar of languages, Google is exploiting its vast database of websites and translated documents to improve the accuracy of its system.

“The more data we input, the better the quality,” said Och. There is no shortage of help. “There are a lot of language enthusiasts out there,” he said.

These paragraphs would indicate that they are using evolutionary computing and Artificial Intelligence techniques – personalising the voice recognition through individual training. Maybe their real goal is less about translation, and instead being the first to create an AI?