Google is well known for working on future tech in its secretive labs, stuff we hear about and stuff we don’t. Google Glass and Project Loon often come from one specific wing of mad Google scientists, and there’s another initiative being worked on that could have a huge effect on how we communicate. Like, big implications for the entire world.
According to Google’s Hugo Barra, vice-president of Android, the company is hard at work on technology that will create near-real time language translation, though things are only early stages. The project is apparently part of Google’s Babel initiative, which we originally thought was going to be Hangouts. Right now, the focus is on turning your mobile device into a “universal translator,” meaning you can speak into it in one language while a completely different language comes out of the receiving end.
“We’ve got tons of prototypes of that sort of interaction,” Barra said about the technology, admitting that a consumer-level product is still years away. Barra did say, however, that the company’s current system is capable of producing “near-perfect” results for certain language pairs, such as between English and Portuguese. Unfortunately, to get acceptable results, Google tested the tech in a controlled environment with no background noise – tests out near busy traffic produced less desirable results.
“We want you to be able to translate things instantly,” said Josh Estelle, an engineer with Google Translate. “We want those conversations to happen.”
Google’s current Translate technology is already well-known among Internet denizens, something people rely on in tricky situations. But that requires someone to go to a specific website, or its app, type in (or speak) a sentence, and then get results. Google’s upcoming tech can potentially merge that tech into your everyday conversation, meaning you’ll be able to pretty much communicate with anyone around the globe.
According to a quick Google search, there are over 6,500 different spoken languages across the world, meaning Google has quite a bit of work on its hands. But if something like this works, and is accurate, imagine the possibilities. Just don’t expect something like Klingon to be supported.