Google claims that prototype real-time speech translation systems are performing with "close to 100% accuracy" in laboratory conditions, but has given no indication as to when a finished product will become a reality.
Google Translate, the web and mobile tool for converting text from one language to another, is already indispensable for most business travelers, expats and holidaymakers. Being able to type in a foreign text and get an immediate translation has saved countless people from accidentally ordering horse in a French restaurant or from using the wrong public toilets. However it's only as effective as the user's keyboard skills and when it comes to symbol- rather than character-based languages, unless the translation in question is for a website and copy and paste is possible, well, you're on your own.
To help alleviate this problem, Google has already added a ‘free-hand' feature. Launched on July 24, it lets users move a finger on the screen or a mouse on the desktop in an attempt to ‘draw' the characters in question, and while that's a good start, in its next trick it hopes to remove the keyboard altogether.
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