Microsoft to Launch New Speech Translation Tool

Author: Adi Gaskell
Published: November 10, 2012 at 6:44 am

speech recognitionWhile the web has undoubtably helped people to learn new languages, with innovative services such as Duolingo using online Captcha forms to help people.  Nevertheless however, learning a new language is still difficult for many of us.

So a new service being demo'd by Microsoft could be just the answer.  The service will translate spoken English into spoken Chinese using your own voice. 

The software manages to preserve both intonation and cadence of the speaker, so the translated speech sounds like the original person.  

The system is modelled on the brain, and recent improvements to the application have significantly reduced the error rate.

The application was announced by Microsoft research boss Rick Rashid in a presentation he gave in China recently.  The final part of his speech was instantly translated into Chinese using the application.

Advances in technology have meant the error rates of speech translation are now down to around 15%, a large improvement on the 25% that was common only a few years ago.  As the neural networks that the Microsoft application are based on are trained it is expected that this rate will fall further still.

"Of course, there are still likely to be errors in both the English text and the translation into Chinese, and the results can sometimes be humorous," said Mr Rashid. "Still, the technology has developed to be quite useful."

Many different technology companies, including AT&T and Google, have similar projects under way that are attempting to do simultaneous translation. NTT Docomo has shown off a smartphone app that lets Japanese people call foreigners and lets both speak in their native tongue.


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Article Author: Adi Gaskell

A writer on management issues for publications such as Professional Manager, CMI, HRM Today, Business Works and Technorati. I also cover social media for Social Media Today, DZone and Social Business News.

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