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Google Babel still alive, bringing instant translations to phone calls

tower-of-babel

Google Babel was the rumored name of what we currently know as Google Hangouts – a unified Google messaging service. The project is not dead just yet, though. Android VP Hugo Barra says Babel is very alive and has plans to unify not only messaging, but also break language barriers altogether.

Google’s current Babel project consists of bringing real-time translations to phone conversations. Yes, in some years we might be able to just talk our hearts into the phone and person in the other end will be able to hear it in his/her native language.

Google Now Voice SearchThis seems almost unbelievable, but the Hugo states the Android team has made some great accomplishments. During testing, Google Babel can translate conversation with results very close to 100% in accuracy. This is in a controlled environment with no background noise, of course.

The biggest challenge is background noise, which is stated to majorly affect the way Google Babel translates a conversation. The tool is still in its early stages and is “a few years away from reaching the public.” Impressive, if you ask me.

Google is known to take some significant risks and bring the “craziest” innovations to the market. Real-time translations is as unbelievable as driverless cars, for example. This could really change the world and I can’t wait to test it. It will make traveling and business so much easier!

[Via The UK Times]




  • Itchy_Robot

    How is that SMS integration coming along?

    • http://www.planwise.com/ Ryan Paredez

      right? That’s what we really want to know

  • Brandon Watkins

    That’s why I want to work for Google they are actually innovative.

    • Kristoff119

      Yep, my wife is getting her degree in computer linguistics and I’m hoping she gets onboard with them. We’re in the third fiber town, so maybe she has a chance;-)

      • Brandon Watkins

        That s awesome! Good luck to you guys. I’m sure if your in a fiber town they will need as much help as they can get.

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    Ask not what Google can do for you, Ask what can I do for Google? If you want to work there..

  • justin middleton

    Yay foreign girlfriends!

    • snapper.fishes

      More like foreign guys pretending to be girls… This is going to be interesting.

  • izzyt

    this would be so cool, like i can finally talk to some random Chinese person and they can understand me, without it being awkward!!! :D

    • apgrovas

      Have you ever tried to use translate on Google’s website (or for that matter on Altavista on its day or on any other computer translation service) on text? If you are a native speaker of another language other than English (Spanish in my case) you will see how patently laughable computer translations are in their current form …I honestly can’t imagine that a real time voice translation engine used on a phone call will work in any truly good form within then next couple of years, but hey, impress me and make me look like a cynic, please Google (and I do love all things done by Google, but on this one I truly have little faith in the near term future).

      • Kristoff119

        Interesting. My wife uses it for Russian at times with little to no problems, and she is a native speaker.

        • apgrovas

          I truly hope your wife is pulling your leg on this one. My wife is a native Mandarin speaker and her opinion is exactly as mine for Spanish in the Mandarin case. Translating speech is no easy feat. Context is far, far to hard with the current state of computer technology.

          • Kristoff119

            She says she’s not, but I should say the translations to/from Armenian are 90% bad, but that’s still in alpha, so it’s to be expected.

          • shonangreg

            I use it with Japanese, and there are strategies to craft the source language such that a better translation will result. Multiple, short, simple sentences work orders of magnitude better than longer sentences. Formal English also works much better than colloquial.

            If the foreign speaker can be asked to speak or write in short sentences as well, then the English coming out will be better also, though formal Japanese is not needed.

  • No_Nickname90

    You’re not kidding when you say Google brings crazy ideas to the world. That’s why I like them. Some of those ideas just flop, but they still try. I like trying those flops only to hate them later on. LoL!!

    I really didn’t like Google Home or something like that. I think it was iGoogle. At one brief point, when I went to Google.com it took me to my iGoogle page. I was like WTF?

    • PooPooTron

      igoogle is still around, actually. It will be shut down on November first of this year

  • CiDhed

    Universal communicators!

  • Ryan Stewart

    How about making Google voices SMS service and app not suck and add MMS before you try to take over phone calls, try the low hanging fruit option.

  • guitarist5122

    Really neat! Now they just need to figure out how to translate in real time face to face without a phone. The future is looking awesome :-)

  • jurrabi

    I can imagine… how awful that would be.

  • TalkingMoose
  • http://www.geekchoice.com/washington-dc Dagmar Schneitz

    I like this app. It’s a quick and easy way for me to learn a foreign language. I have a pen pal in Mexico, and because of instant translations, I’m pretty good with Spanish.

  • Alexei Watson

    I think babel is a much more suitable name for this.

    As in the Babel fish from Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    “The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix.”