According to technology reporter Murad Ahmed with the Times, Google is already developing prototype devices that will provide real-time, instantaneous voice translation to its Android mobile platform users. Google’s vice-president of Android product management Hugo Barra says the final products are still years away from public release but, quotes the Times, “We’ve got tons of prototypes of that sort of interaction, and I’ve played with it every other week to see how much progress we’ve made.”
We all have long benefited from Google’s investment in speech recognition and translation technologies. In this video from 2010, BeetTV interviewed Google’s Mike Cohen about the company’s research efforts and revealed that its core speech recognition engine, trained first on broadcast news and YouTube video sources, is definitely being further specialized for the company’s diverse interests.
Mobile users worldwide are grateful. The Google Translate app for iPhone and Android mobile operating systems — while far from our babelfish dreams of voice recogniton and real-time translation — has already garnered considerable praise for the company’s efforts from tech reviewers and end users alike. The app takes text, voice, and camera data and translates it into more than 70 language pairs.
“The long-term goal is to be totally ubiquitous,” says Cohen. “If it’s easier for someone to speak rather than to type at a particular time, enable it. If there’s spoken information out there that people want to be able to find, organize, or hear translated into other languages, enable that.”
The only question remains: Will it be Google or Microsoft who first delivers Star Trek’s reality?