The Internet has made it easier than ever to communicate with others. You can video chat with people on the other side of the world and see their face. For text-based messages, there are a host of translation services for pretty much all of your needs. NTT DoCoMo is looking to make that true for voice-based messages as well.
One of the gaping issues with online communication is the continued need for a real live translator when talking to people. Whether it’s someone sitting in on your video conferences or someone listening to your phone call, getting translation for talking still requires a person.
NTT DoCoMo is looking to fix this issue with app that will translate speaking in real time. So, for instance, someone speaking Japanese and someone speaking English are talking, the app will translate the English to Japanese and vice versa. This could be a huge deal as it would break down literally all language barriers between countries.
How does NTT DoCoMo intend to roll this out?
In a word, slowly. NTT DoCoMo plans on releasing the application to work with English, Japanese, Mandarin, and Korean. They plan on releasing other languages as time goes. This includes video chatting that will not only give a translation but a text output of it as well.
NTT DoCoMo isn’t alone, though. Lexifone and Vocre are developing similar technology as is Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent. There are a lot of reasons why technology like this would be useful, especially for large, international corporations. The ability for, say, Microsoft employees who speak different languages to work together would be invaluable. Competition is good, though. It helps encourage new innovations.
The expansion is planned to be aggressive. By the end of November, NTT DoCoMo plans to add six additional languages to the planned four for a total of ten. Additionally, they’d like the technology to work for up to four languages at once in a video chat with 10 people in it.
If NTT DoCoMo can pull this off, it would be huge. There has been a need for an automatic voice translation system has been around as long as the phone call and has only gotten more in demand since video chatting became popular. If released, is this software you could see yourself using? Let us know.