Microsoft’s Universal Translator Uses Your Own Voice
The last year has seen a flurry of technological developments in the fields of engineering, computer science, and more that seem to come straight off of the starship Enterprise. Cloaking technology has begun testing in various forms, with some experts believing that invisible soldiers may be fighting the wars of the near-future, and EEG is now being used as a way of controlling computers and other gadgets using only your mind. Now, in an announcement that will surely be of great interest to numerous consumers the world over, Microsoft has unveiled a new device that should be familiar to any fan of the classic scifi TV series: a translator that not only converts your actual speech into another language, but does so in real-time while using your own voice.
While other speech and conversation translators have begun springing up in various mediums, including Google’s Translate app that can be downloaded for free on any Android device, this joint research endeavor by software company Deep Neural Networks and the University of Toronto boasts an increasingly impressive accuracy rate and the revolutionary use of the speaker’s own voice in the outgoing translation into a foreign language, specifically Spanish, Italian and Mandarin Chinese (for now, at least).
At the October 25th demo of the device in China, Microsoft’s chief researcher on the project, Rick Rashid, the device carried with it a reduced error rate of around 30%, meaning that roughly one word in eight is incorrectly translated. While still high, it shows great progress over previous phases of the project.
“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” Rashid warns. “Still, the technology has developed to be quite useful.”
To see the landmark device in action, check out this video of Rashid from the event in China. Skip to 7:30 to hear the device operate: