Microsoft TechFest is an opportunity for developers and researchers to preview some pretty oddball technology advances, but one of the more down to earth applications might just revolutionize the way international business meetings are conducted. The new "Microsoft Translating Telephone" allows users to communicate in different languages, and experience voice to text translation on the fly.
A representative from Cnet attending the conference claims they were able to comfortably carry on a normal conversation with a second party in German, and while it wasn't perfect, it looked pretty darn close. No announcements were made on when if ever this would become available to the public, but clearly it addresses a pretty important need.
If they could wrap this up into a nice tidy little application for Windows Phone 7 I dare say they would have the killer app for mobile business professionals who would suddenly find themselves able to order a beer in any language.
The Translating Telephone is tied in my books with the Air Guitar for best TechFest tech demo. Which one are you rooting for?
Beta watching is so much fun. For those in on the hunt, you can check off a sighting of a new beta version of Google Chrome. This new variant on the species is particularly interesting, as it allows easier navigation of a multi-lingual web.
Google explains: “When the language of the webpage you're viewing is different from your preferred language setting, Chrome will display a prompt asking if you'd like the page to be translated for you using Google Translate.” Google readily admits that the translations may not be perfect, but they should be good enough for a user to get the gist of what a web page is about.
This is nothing new--there have long been translations options available on the Internet, for particular passages or entire web pages. What Google has done is make the process more convenient. Rather than hunt down a translation option, Google presents you with one--and starts you off by guessing the original language, which it offers to translate into your preferred language.
While there are arguments to be made that these translations don’t do justice to the original text, it’s better than nothing. And it might prove useful for pushing users into new areas of the Internet, where they can experience the cultures that accompany these other languages.
Also new in this beta are updated privacy features. Besides Chrome’s incognito mode, a new “Privacy” section appears in Chome’s Options dialog allowing quicker, easier access to privacy settings.
Today at Mobile World Congress Google showed off a new piece of software that may prevent untold thousands of cultural misunderstandings. The prototype software allows a user to upload a photo of text, and then translate it to a different language. In the demo, the application was used on a German menu where it correctly translated "Fruhlingssalat mit Wildkrautern" as "spring salad with wild herbs."
The app was running on an Android phone, but few details were released. It could be this is just some unreleased feature in Google Goggles. Google CEO Eric Schmidt played off the demo in his speech when he said the availability of cloud computing applications on phones would be a potent factor in the future of wireless technology.
The Google event also included a new look at Flash content working on the Android operating system. Between that and the image translation app, Google managed to work the Android fanboys into a frenzy. No word on release dates for either feature.
The multilingual engineers at Google have been busy tweaking the company's Google Translate feature and on Monday launched three new features, plus a new, shinier look and feel.
Underneath the new aesthetic, the biggest change is real-time translation. You can forget about hitting the 'Translate' button because Google now displays your translated text as you type. It's pretty fun to play around and experiment with, not to mention pretty useful for anyone composing letters which need to appear in a different language.
Another awesome feature is the ability to read just about any language, regardless of whether you understand the characters or not. If translating Chinese text, for example, you would mash the "Show romanization" link to read the text written phonetically in English. Before long, you'll know exactly how to say, "Where is the restroom?" and "Are you single?," two important phrases when traveling abroad.
There's also a new input translation feature for Arabic, Persian, and Hindi - just type the words as they sound and Google will convert them to their native script -- as well as a text-to-speech feature when translating into English.
In addition to the heavily touted Sidewiki feature in the new Google Toolbar, the browser add-on also includes Google's advanced in-page translation for Firefox users, "making it easy to read a webpage in another language with the click of a button," Google said in a blog post.
Throwing another bone to Firefox users, the updated toolbar works in sync with Firefox version 3.5's Private Browsing Mode and will not record your search box history when maneuvering stealthily around the Web. PageRank, Web History, and Sidewiki are also turned off, freeing users up to visit the Detroit Lions support group without leaving any embarrassing traces behind.
Google’s translation tool, which makes translating entire web sites extremely easy, is making its way to Gmail labs this month. Finally, you can find out exactly what those Japanese “happy pill” emails in your junk folder say!
The translation tool reportedly works in just a few seconds, and will translate both the subject and the body of the email while keeping the original intact. You can swap between both versions of your message by clicking a link.
Translated items won’t stay translated though; you’ll have to re-translate a message every time you wish to read it. And, the translated words don’t get cycled into Gmail’s search engine, so if you’re trying to track down a foreign email, make sure you remember how to type the characters type a required key word.