If you've ever been struggling with a foreign language dictionary abroad, wishing that you could simply speak into a machine and have your chat translated for you, NTT (News - Alert) Docomo may be ready to make your wish come true.
The company, which is Japan’s number one cell phone carrier is about to begin offering a new real-time speech-to-speech translation service that you can use both in person and over the phone during a call, according to Geek.com According to Japanese news services, the solution is the first automated chat translation service in the world that is available on a standard cell phone.
The new product combines several cutting-edge technologies: advanced speech recognition, machine translation and text-to-speech conversion of the translated results, says Geek.com. The services to power the solution will be cloud-based, says NTT Docomo.
During demonstrations for the press, the solution was capable of translating simple statements (“What is your name?”), if not perfectly, at least well enough to be understood. To start, the service will provide translation between English and Japanese (the English option allows users to choose British English, American English or Australian English) and Japanese and Korean. Support for Japanese to Chinese translation is expected early next year.
To use the service during a phone call, users will call a designated number, after which they will be voice-prompted to input information, including the phone number of the individual or business they wish to call. Those using the service on NTT Docomo smartphones will be able to see both the original and translated sentences on the screen, says news site The Daily Yomiuri.
The service will initially be free to companies and organizations. NTT Docomo does plan to charge for the service eventually, but the company has reportedly not yet worked out the details for payment.
Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jamie Epstein