Open Source Platforms Lead the Machine Translation Charge

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 17, 2011

At a surprisingly rapid pace, machine language translation is now moving into high gear on devices that we already use, and open source platforms are leading the charge. Ten years ago, futurists such as Ray Kurzweil predicted that the devices we carry with us would become fast and efficient at translating languages, and it's happening now. If you haven't tried the translation tools in platforms such as Google Chrome and on Android, you're missing out.

Take a look at this YouTube video, which features a Google engineer demonstrating Google Translate on various web pages writting in non-English tongues. While Google Translate regularly makes mistakes, the engineer's claim that "you can get the gist" of foreign pages and conversations is true.

As eWeek Europe reports, Google has also steadily been developing Google Translate for Android, which features a "Conversation Mode" that allows for real-time translation of conversations in various languages:

"The company earlier this year added Conversation Mode, which lets users to translate chats between English and Spanish. Now Google has made the tool available from Android 2.2 handsets and later in Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian and Turkish."

How accurate is Conversation Mode? It's about as accurate as speech recognition software, if you're familiar with tools like Dragon's. That is to say, these applications make mistakes, but they are rapidly getting better and they get the job done.

It's invetibale that translation technology will become close to 100 percent accurate, and be instantly available on our smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices. Google's involvement with developing all of this is undersung, too. For translation of written materials, Translate does a good job. For translation of conversations, Translate for Android is not perfect, but is nevertheless impressive. These open platforms are pushing the translation envelope.