If I were asked the question “How many languages do you speak?”, today I would have to say 4 – English, Français (je peux parler Français, mais pas courrament), Hebrew (my mother tongue, actually… hence the chosen keyboard pic), C# (and VB, but I can’t remember the last time I wrote anything in VB after having switched to C#). Tomorrow, though, that may be dozens. Several dozen, actually, with the help of the latest and greatest coming out from the folks over at Microsoft Research. They are making huge breakthroughs in speech translation technology that will make it possible for all of us to speak in different languages.

Rick RashidIn this video, Microsoft’s Chief Research Officer Rick Rashid demonstrates the technology that they’ve come up with to enable spoken language to be translated and spoken in another language in the speaker’s own voice (or at least what sounds like his or her voice). He then goes on to explain how this is done.

You can read a detailed post about this on Next at Microsoft. I especially loved the closing of the article – not because of the Star Trek reference (and yes, I am a Trekkie, if you didn’t already know that), but because of Rick and the team’s aspirations for the future and what will be possible:

“In other words, we may not have to wait until the 22nd century for a usable equivalent of Star Trek’s universal translator, and we can also hope that as barriers to understanding language are removed, barriers to understanding each other might also be removed. The cheers from the crowd of 2000 mostly Chinese students, and the commentary that’s grown on China’s social media forums ever since, suggests a growing community of budding computer scientists who feel the same way.”

With this kind of innovation in hand (eventually), imagine the app possibilities.

Let the ideas start flowing…

Photo Credit: aleazzurro