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  • Google's Universal Translation Machine
Technology Articles > Cell Phones > Android > Google's Universal Translation Machine

Google wants the world to communicate clearly. That's why the company has announced a new goal: to build a universal translator into every Android phone. If you've ever watched Star Trek, the concept of such a translator won't be that foreign to you. Not a Star Trek fan? Here's what Google's future image of the world looks like.

Hello, Bonjour, Yaisou!

Somewhere behind that massive curtain at Google sits a mastermind with a hippie heart. Or, a team of developers that have seen too many Star Trek episodes. Either way, Google's vision of future communication goes something like this: you pick up your phone and dial someone's number in another country. You then speak into your phone in English (or your native tongue), and the person on the other end of the phone hears you - in their native tongue.

It's called real world translation, and it was the stuff of fantasy. Google is trying to make that fantasy come to life by creating a program that will let you communicate with anyone you call in real-time. Sound amazing? Well, it is. Only, can Google pull it off?

How Far Has Google Gone?

Google's head of Android product management, Hugo Barra, has stated that the company is already working on real-time translation. So far, Google has created prototype phones that are "near perfect" when it comes to matching certain languages (Portuguese and English were cited as the best examples).

The company is still far away from making all languages available in real-time, though. It could be years before you see Android phones with built-in Universal Translation programs, but the concept is still a remarkable one. Even more remarkable is the fact that Google has some of these prototype phones in the works (and that the phones are actually working). There are still some kinks to work out before the phones go public.

Still In the Works

Google reps have stated that some languages prove to be more challenging than others (Chines, for example). But, the team is working tirelessly on this futuristic project. To date, there is no such machine in existence, and Google would be the first company to take this well-known science fiction machine into the real world.

Back in 2006, IBM tried to create a similar translation machine that could record a user's comments and translate those comments into Iraqi Arabic in minutes, but that's not quite the same thing (and that technology was placed in various laptops for military use only). Google's machine will translate all, or most, languages, and it will be added directly to Android phones.

Even though a universal translation machine is still in the far future, it's interesting to note that one day you may be able to call any of your friends, clients, or colleagues in another country and ensure that they understand you without actually using a translation dictionary or separate machine. If Google can make this technology happen, would you pay a lot of money for an Android phone that includes universal translation capabilities?