Instant translators have been used in Science Fiction as a handy device to provide an almost instantaneous translation of communication between humans and aliens. US Soldiers are now trialing the SQ.410 Translation System developed by VoxTec.
The system is a hand held device that lets a soldier speak English into the device. The system then provides written and spoken translations into another language. Testing in the field is under way in African countries to determine how well the current device works where there is a multitude of French dialects.
How do translators Work?
Translators rely on the integration of three key software technologies: automatic speech recognition, machine translation and voice synthesis . A corpus or databank of audio files underlies the speech recognition component which converts the audio input into a word string. The translation component then translates these words into words of an alternate language taking into consideration context attempting to avoid a too literal translation.The voice synthesis relies on a speech synthesis module to create the audio.
Voice translator apps, previously only in science fiction now exist for commercial use with hand held mobile device apps available on Google Apps and iTunes. Late last year Skype announced its first phase of the Skype Translator. A preview is currently available for windows.