In this month’s news from the translation tech space, we’ve got everything from teaching our computers facial ticks to teaching our kids language tricks. There’s also news from the giants, of course — Twitter, Google, and Facebook.
Snap to Google Translate
Google Translate Blog: “The Translate app already lets you use camera mode to snap a photo of text and get a translation for it in 36 languages. Now, we’re taking it to the next level and letting you instantly translate text using your camera … While using the Translate app, just point your camera at a sign or text and you’ll see the translated text overlaid on your screen—even if you don’t have an Internet or data connection. This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and we’re working to expand to more languages … Starting today, simply tap the mic to start speaking in a selected language, then tap the mic again, and the Google Translate app will automatically recognize which of the two languages are being spoken, letting you have a more fluid conversation.” – Hallo, hola, olá to the new, more powerful Google Translate app, 14 January 2015
Financial Times Business took it for a street test in London and interviewed translation industry professionals regarding its limitations. See the video below.
Twitter Launches Bing
TechCrunch: “After toying with the feature for a couple of years, Twitter has officially added Bing Translator to its site, mobile apps for iOS and Android, and TweetDeck. Once users activate the tool in their account setting, they will see a little globe icon next to tweets in different languages. A translation appears below the original tweet once the globe is clicked. The majority of Twitter users — 77 percent — are based in countries outside the U.S. … Twitter acknowledged that machine translations may be less than accurate, so it will display the original text above its translated version.” – Twitter Adds Bing Translation Tool To Its Site And Mobile Apps, 23 January 2015
Facebook’s New Voice
ProgrammableWeb: “Facebook has acquired Wit.ai , a natural language recognition API provider. Founded 18 months ago, Wit.ai aimed to build an open, distributed, community-based platform that developers could use to build apps with speech recognition. The Wit API eliminates the app developer’s need to build a voice recognition platform from the ground up and integrates world-class natural language processing into any app in a matter of minutes. With its open approach, Wit.ai has attracted a solid user base, and Facebook’s resource and developer base could help Wit.ai take its product to a new level.” – Facebook Acquires Voice Regnition API Provider Wit.ai, 6 January 2015
Towards MT for Video
Health Canal: “While typing a message, the computer you’re working on identifies the language you use instantly. As part of his PhD project, Binyam Gebrekidan Gebre trained a computer program to perform the same trick on sign languages. Language recognition is the first step for automatic translations of videos. To study sign languages – natural languages that use hands, facial and body movements to convey meaning – large data collections are needed. Transcription of videos is very time consuming though and therefore very expensive. The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen set up a project to automate sign language transcription.” – A machine can learn to identify sign languages, 27 January 2015
Language Teaching via Gaming
Gigaom: “Duolingo, an app that turns the language-learning experience into a game and uses the data generated to improve itself, is headed to the classroom. Although some teachers had used the free Duolingo app in their classes, Duolingo for Schools adds structure and a dashboard so teachers can keep track of their entire class. Students will progress through Duolingo as directed by their teachers, who will receive data on how they’re doing and where they might need improvement. Duolingo for Schools will be free, so individual teachers can incorporate it into their lesson plans without going through an administrator-level textbook or technology purchase.” – Language-learning app Duolingo introduces program for classrooms, 8 January 2015
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