Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Babel fish

The ingredients for an instant translation tool already exist, and we don’t have to wait until the 23rd century. I’ve been thinking about how such a translator might work, and because I’ll never get around to doing it myself, the recipe is set out below.


  1. One smartphone with voice to text and a 3G or WiFi connection and Bluetooth
  2. One Bluetooth earpiece
  3. Google


  1. The speaker talks into the phone.
  2. The phone converts the speech into text.
  3. The text goes wirelessly to Google, where one of the Google elves translates it into the target language and sends the translated text back to the phone.
  4. A phone app converts the new text to speech.
  5. The speech is delivered to the recipient’s ear through the Bluetooth earpiece.

According to Douglas Adams, such a device could cause “…more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

Whilst surfing the net to find a picture of the Star Trek Universal Translator (Reference: TOS “Metamorphosis”), I found that a much less clunky version of my idea already appears to exist.

Oh well. Such a shame I gave up my day job.



Voix said...

There's an iPhone app called Say Hi that does just that - it's pretty brilliant!

Mita Ray said...

Alcatel-Lucent is working on one for the normal phones to be used in offices and call centres. Opens up a whole host of new possibilities. Of course yours is so much more fun.

Martín said...

what about a device that tells me what my girlfriend means when she says "yes", or "no", or anything at all, really... =/

Louis Martin said...
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