December was a quiet month for localization and translation technology news, undoubtedly caused by more pressing interests in last-minute gift shopping and the discovery of recipes for Christmas roast beast. (Please pass the green eggs and ham, thanks.) Nevertheless, Skype’s voice-to-voice translation innovation managed to capture plenty of media attention, and even a translation pen project Kickstarted itself into coverage.
We have much to look forward to in 2015. Let’s get started.
Translation Fires Up Amazon Smartphone
Tech Times: “Amazon is rolling out its biggest Amazon Fire Phone update to date in hopes of attracting a new market … The new features include the ability to translate text in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish and identify famous artwork in pictures using Amazon’s database of more than 2,000 pieces of art. Users will also have the ability to take their Best Shot, a feature that lets them choose among which three versions of one photo to retain.
Amazon has also added several new keyboard languages …” – Amazon Fire Phone Update Brings Multi-Language Text Translation Feature, Artwork Recognition Tool, And More, 20 December 2014
Google Translate Expands in Asia
TechCrunch: “Google’s translation tool is constantly adding new languages, but its latest update is notable because it includes Burmese, the official language of Myanmar, as well as Malayalam, one of India’s six classical languages with 38 million speakers.
The latter is especially significant because it ties into Google’s efforts to get more Indian users onto its services.
Earlier this month, for example, Google launched the Indian Language Internet Alliance, which seeks to increase offerings for Hindi speakers, as well as Hindi voice search. At that time, Google India MD Rajan Anandan said at a press conference that ‘to reach our goal of 500 million Internet users by 2017 [in India] we need to make the Internet accessible to those who don’t speak English.’” – Google Translate Adds 10 More Languages, Including Burmese, 11 December 2014
Skype Debuts Spanish Translation in Real Time
Wired: “Skype has today launched its anticipated real-time translator tool and is accepting registrations for the new service.
For now, the voice function of Skype Translator will only work in English and Spanish, the two most widely spoken languages in the world after Mandarin (it’s likely the tech giant will want to launch in Mandarin as well, and position the tool as being for business as well as education). However, in a blog post the company says we can expect “40 plus instant messaging languages” to be up for translations. The preview version of the tool, which has been in the making for a decade at Microsoft Research, is available on Windows 8.1 and anyone that wants to give it a whirl will have to register.” – Skype’s real-time voice translator launches today in English-Spanish, 15 December 2014
Microsoft Expands Windows Phone Translation Features
WinBeta: “If you happen to be a regular user of Microsoft Translator on Windows Phone, you’ll be glad to hear that it was bumped to version 3.2, and is rather a big update.
The update doesn’t feature a whole lot of new features, but it adds support for voice translation in several new languages including Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Russian, as well as different versions of English, French and Spanish.
As per the official change log, the version 3.2 adds ‘voice translation for English (Australia), English (Canada), English (India), Spanish (Mexico), French (Canada), Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Russian.’” – Translator for Windows Phone picks up an update – includes voice translation for more languages, 23 December 2014
Scan-to-Translate Smart Pen Launched on Kickstarter
Crowdfund Insider: “PenPower, a provider for devices with built-in smart human-machine interface technologies, announced on Tuesday (December 31st) that it has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for its new product, WorldPenScan X. The device is considered the world’s first pen scanner for iOS and Android smartphones.
WorldPen 2 Product manager at PenPower, Daniel Liu shared, ‘With this scanner, users can extract printed sentences and convert them into texts on the smart phone. By integrating with translation software, WorldPenScan X can turn your smart phone into an electronic translator.’ Along with the newest Bluetooth LE technology, no extra setup is needed to pair the Bluetooth connection between WorldPenScan X and smartphones.” – PenPower Hits Kickstarter for the Mobility Solution that Supports Scanning & Translating Documents on the Go, 31 December 2014
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