Microsoft English-Mandarin Realtime Translation

We are still a long way from a Star Trek-style "universal translator", but big strides have been made in speech recognition and ultimately, translation from one language to another. If you stop and think for a moment, the nuances of language must be incredibly difficult for a machine to understand and process with any degree of accuracy. Microsoft, in conjunction with several others, have come up with at least a proof of concept of an (almost) real-time English to Mandarin Chinese translation system. The video below gives a good sense of what is involved (the good part is around the 7:30 mark, when the system actually translates the spoken words of the presenter, Microsoft chief research officer Rick Rashid, into synthesized Mandarin). Judging from the audience reaction at the Asian 21st Century Computing conference, it appears to work. Very cool.

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