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Universal Speech Translation App Ready for the Olympics

To gather data, scientists hope that tourists at this summer's Olympics will take advantage of a new language translation app, soon to be available for free at Apple's App Store. 

What’s the Latest Development?

A speech translation iPhone app called VoiceTra4U-M will be given the perfect testing ground this summer as millions of tourists from across the world descend on London for the 2012 Olympics. “Developed by the Universal Speech Translation Advanced Research Consortium (U-STAR), which is made up of researchers from 23 different countries, [the app] supports full voice translation for 13 different languages, with text translation for a further 10.” Users can share an iPhone to have a translated conversation or place a call to anyone else using the app. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Machine intelligence is being brought to bear on human languages in a way that was unthinkable just a few years ago. The new U-STAR app, which is tailored to translate words and phrases related to tourism, allows it to communicate between local languages with 80 to 90% accuracy, greatly improving on Google’s translation app which achieved 40 to 60% accuracy. “The app will soon be available for free from the App Store and U-STAR hopes that tourists visiting the UK will use it during the Olympics, allowing the researchers to gather experimental data and improve the service.”

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