Friday, October 14, 2011

Escusa-me Onde Esta O Bano

Yesterday Google released a new version of its translate tool for Android. You can find this program in the Android Market, download it to your smart phone and communicate with people in other languages. It takes just a minute to install, then you select the two languages and it is ready to go. There is no configuration or training.

Now, I have been around technology almost my entire life and it takes a lot to impress me. Here I am holding a device in my hand that listens in one language and immediately speaks the same words or phrases in another. I believe the last time I saw this it was in an episode of Star Trek.

To some this may not seem like much, but you have to appreciate how much is going on between the time you stop speaking and it starts rendering your message in another language. There is virtually no delay. It can listen to me and any person with whom I am trying to communicate and it understands the words we speak. It supports many languages including the ones you would expect such as Italian, French, Spanish, German and Russian. But it also does Latin, Hebrew, Urdu and a host of others I found a little surprising. It translates seamlessly and instantly among any of these. The title escusa-me onde esta o bano is Galician for where is the bathroom.

Moreover, it has a conversational mode where you speak and it immediately speaks your message in the language you chose. You can then allow the other person to speak and it translates that into English (or whatever your native tongue may be.) This is near real time inter-language exchange.

With this application on an Android smart phone one can now easily communicate in almost any foreign land or locally with people who don't understand or speak your native language.  See my brief demo here.

But beyond the obvious use of tourism, imagine how beneficial a tool like this would be in emergency situations, business meetings, education classes, military engagements and other places where language can be an inhibitor or even threaten disaster through lack of communication.

Google translate is one utility that will definitely remain on my phone. I have a lot to say about this tool and the fun part is now I can say it in so many different languages.

Captain Joe

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