Breaking Language Barriers: New Tech Giving Real-Time Translations

By: Sam Robinson

Communication might be about to get a whole lot easier with a new piece of tech allowing translation in real-time.

Though world travel has been put on ice due to the coronavirus, there are still moments when we might need to communicate with others who may not speak English. Geoff Quattromani from the Technology Uncorked podcast explained how new technology called “live translation”, created by an Australian telco, is enabling real-time conversations to take place across many language barriers.

“Effectively what Optus is doing here is that they are adding a translator into the conversation. Not an actual person – this is just powered by Google Translate,” Geoff said.

If you’re talking to, say, someone speaking Italian, as that person speaks over the phone, you will receive an almost real-time translation in English.

“It means that you and I can talk in our native languages, and still understand everything we’re saying to each other,” he said.

So does this technology mean that professional human translators might one day find themselves out of work?

“Any type of translation tool, when it’s not powered by a human being, can make mistakes,” Geoff said.

“You need to be very careful. But it’s still a lot better than not being able to understand anyone at all.

“When it comes to basic translation, the computers are doing a great job at that, [however] context can get lost in translation.”

When asked about other helpful tech for translation, Geoff said it’s hard to go past Google Translate.

“I recommend people have it on their phone. The camera can be used to translate text. If you do travel, you can point the camera at street signs or shop windows and it will translate it back into English, which can be helpful in trying to find a bathroom, a hospital, a chemist,” he said.

“But back home, if you go to a foreign restaurant – whatever language it is – you can point the camera to the menu, it will translate all of that text into English.”

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

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