Monday, November 15, 2004

Speak in Bengali, Hear in Tamil!

The Telegraph, one of my favourite newspapers in India, has this great article about real-time translation of conversations over cellphones.

The software is being developed jointly by C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advance Computing), IIT Kanpur and IIIT Mysore. They are expecting the software to be commercially available in three years time!

This has been a holy grail for a many, many years. In the past, all such developments, even simple text-to-speech conversions have been miserable failures as most of the nuances of a language get lost in these translations, including pronunciations of certain words, and the current idiom of the language.

However, a brief note in the article gives me some hope -
“Latency of a second or two will be experienced when the conversation begins since the knowledge has to be extracted from databases. But once the conversation moves ahead, it will become real time."
That points to some intelligent translation rather than brute force!

I hope this succeeds and doesn't go the "Simputer" way, where the product becomes so prohibitively expensive that it becomes useless for the target consumers.



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