Breaking Through Language Barriers

Smartphones and tablets becoming personal translation tools.

By on May 7, 2013

The key to unlocking worlds previously closed due to language barriers can now be opened through new translation tools found on smartphones and tablets.

Today, the need for translation services is on the rise; it is estimated that the demand for language services will grow 12 percent annually. Wireless companies and app developers are using advances in voice recognition and image capture technology to build programs for speedy and accurate translations.

Tapping speech recognition technology, the SayHi Translation app can understand and translate 33 languages and dialects. One unique feature is the capability to select a male or female voice and control the speed of speech. Apps such as Word Lens and Omron use a smartphone’s camera to take pictures of written words, including signs, menus or newspapers, and interpret them into the desired language.

Translation services are even being built into devices. The Samsung Galaxy S4 will come equipped with an instant translator that can interpret nine languages using speech-to-text or text-to-speech. Even when the phone is not connected to the network, the program is embedded with more than 3,000 phrases.

Beyond on-the-spot translation guidance, mobile technology is improving the way users learn languages. Phrasebook, the newest feature to Google Translate, helps users commit phrases and sentences to memory by saving the most useful phrases in an easily searchable personalized phrasebook.

Whether users are travelling around the world or around their own city, mobile translation technology opens up a new world of communication.