Want to Be Multilingual? There's an App for That
If you’re kicking yourself for not working harder to learn another language, then you might only have to turn to a new voice application for help.
While some other technologies have in the past enabled users to translate using speech, most had significant limitations. For example, users were often limited to preprogrammed standard phrases, and these devices were used primarily by the military.
However, in May, Cellictica, a privately owned speech technology company based in Finland, released Trippo VoiceMagix, a speech-to-speech translation application for the iPhone. This app allows a user to speak in one language and then hear a spoken translation into the target language. The translated text also appears, via speech-to-text technology, as text on the iPhone’s display screen. A version of this application, Trippo Mondo, is available for Android, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry smartphones, but it doesn’t have speech-to-speech capability; instead it translates text to speech.
“There are quite a few technologies involved, and we have integrated all of them into this application,” says Kimmo Sainio, CEO of Cellictica. “To my knowledge, we are the first ones to bring this kind of application to the market. I’m excited to see what the customer reaction will be.”
To power VoiceMagix, Cellictica partnered with Nuance Communications, leveraging the same core technologies that power Dragon Dictation and Dragon Search and some others. Nuance’s Vocalizer enables the text-to-speech readout.
“Bringing speech-to-speech translation functionality to the masses represents a tremendous global market opportunity,” said Michael Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of Nuance Mobile, in a statement. “Cellictica’s innovative approach to language translation with the Trippo VoiceMagix app is solving a very timely need for today’s increasing global society.”
The application, which is currently available for a promotional price of $9.99, can translate more than 20 languages. Cellictica also is looking to expand the application, according to Sainio. “We are planning to launch several applications using speech technology control or search discovery,” he says. In addition, the company plans to adapt the solution for more business verticals, Sainio adds.
A free demo version with an option to upgrade should be available through Apple’s App Store shortly, Sainio says. “I want everyone to have a chance to try out the new technology for free.”
While the application doesn’t guarantee 100 percent accuracy, it will probably beat fumbling through a phrasebook any day.