Translate.com has added another translation mobile app to the market, this one offering a 78-language capability. Type text into it, speak at it, and photograph images of it and it will translate the words on iOS and Android. Travelers can use this service for menus, bus signs, and communicating on the street.
Crowdsourcing technology is used in Translate.com’s mobile app; users contribute to accurate translations. Users can also contribute their own translations, and thereby earn points and badges. There are currently two million registered users on Translate.com’s 78-language mobile app. The company hopes their use of crowd-sourcing will create the best translation service available and so give Translate.com an edge over the various other translation mobile apps out there.
Translation mobile apps improve as speech and optical recognition technology improves. Some mobile apps, such as Waygo, translate without connection to the internet just by hovering the phone’s camera over the words. Japan’s NTT Docomo is developing a realtime translation of any words a phone’s camera passes over. Although still in the prototype stage, the device should be ready by 2020. Google Glass has a similar mobile app in the works.
An example of the current Google Glass:
Commonly, translation mobile apps run between free and $2 -3. Google Translate, iTranslate, Interpret, and Word Lens are free (specific languge-to-language pair support is $5 on Word Lens). Languages, iHandy, Pixter Scanner OCR cost a couple of dollars each.
Google Translate and iTranslate currently support about 70 languages. Google Translate, which is compatible with all major smartphones, tablets, and PC’s, can convert handwritten notes in addition to text, will teach you correct pronunciation, and possesses decently accurate translation capability. In addition, it’s quite easy to use. Google Translate ranks highly on all translation app comparisons. The downside of Google Translate is that you need an internet connection. Another free mobile app, iTranslate, can convert spoken words in addition to text.
Some top apps available for use offline include Jibbingo ($5) and Word Lens ($5 per language pack), which translates words live on your screen.
Babylon, a leading name in translation for 15 years, recently released its first free translation app, to much critical acclaim. To give an idea of the scale of its service, Babylon services 190 countries, translating 77 languages, and translates 100 million terms per day from a bank of 37 million words, terms and phrases.
This industry is seen to be growing, as more and more people rely on mobile devices as their principle tool for assessing and processing information.
For sign language, Microsoft Research Asia recently showcased its Kinect Sign Language Translator, which will translate between sign language and speech. This will be especially useful to the estimated 360 million who cannot hear.
India’s National Translation Mission is also developing an MTS (Machine Translation System). India comprises 22 separate languages. The stated goal of this project is to make available to all of India the wealth of study materials printed in English.
While these language translation services will make travelling immeasurably easier, and will communicate what you want to say, they will not translate what you mean when you say it since that is something that belongs to the culture that is represented by the language. However, having the ability to translate 78 languages at the tip of your finger with a mobile app like Translate.com is undeniably a dream asset for travelers and language students alike.
By DB Donaldson