Face-to-face voice and text translation across multiple languages
We're at CTIA 2013 in Las Vegas and while a lot of business and back-end technologies are being talked about here, companies like the Japanese carrier NTT Docomo are showing off at least a couple of consumer-facing products. Its recently announced "Translator Phone" service was on display today and we had a moment to see how it all worked. The app and service, which will be pre-loaded on nearly every one of its devices going forward, gives near real-time voice and text translation between English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and several other languages.
The UI is extremely simple, and all you have to do is select which two languages you'd like to have a translated conversation between. The app then has two buttons -- for example English and Japanese -- that you tap, speak to and receive a translation. Voice is nearly instantly transcribed into text, translated into the text of the other language, then also read aloud in that language. You can then hold the phone to the native speaker of the other language, where they can read the text and give their response for you to read. The translations come through in a threaded conversation view, and any of the translations can be read aloud or re-transcribed at any time.
NTT Docomo is also working with this same technology to provide nearly real-time translation over phone calls, but it is only working in a limited capacity with English, Japanese and Chinese with about a 2 second delay when translating. The hope is to eventually provide seamless translation between languages while on phone calls one day. Be sure to watch the video above of the service in action.