MASTOR Provides Real-Time Speech Translation
MASTOR (Multilingual Automatic Speech-to-Speech Translator) is an IBM research application that can dynamically translate English speech to Mandarin Chinese speech. You could speak English into a microphone at a conference, and the system will translate the sentence into Mandarin Chinese, and say it out loud in real time.
MASTOR's translations are based on statistical analysis of the language; the source sentence is decompiled into a set of conceptual ideas. Then, the translated sentence is constructed in the target language, based upon these conceptual ideas. The current version runs on a PC running Windows XP and CE (which means it could be run on a PDA). It will not be available to consumers for at least six months.
Real-time speech translation is an enabler for a variety of ideas that have been pure science fiction up until recently. For example, it implies that you have solved the problem of accurately understanding the spoken word. In the mid-sixties, IBM speech translation software worked 84 seconds for every real second of speech - and didn't have the accuracy or range.
Speaking of the mid-sixties, the original Star Trek series featured a universal translator. The episode was Metamorphosis, originally aired on November 11, 1967.
(Star Trek Universal Translator)
A good example of a realistically portrayed, real-time speech translation (and reply) device is the translator disc from Larry Niven's 1976 novel Ringworld:
"...I assume we are all wearing our communicator discs?"
Louis wore his inside his left wrist. The discs were linked to the autopilot aboard the Liar. They should work over such a distance, and the Liar's autopilot should be able to translate any new language...
...Presently the discs were filling in words and phrases... His voice was almost a chant, almost a recital of poetry. The autopilot was translating Louis's words into a similar chant, though it spoke to Louis in a conversational tone.
(Read more about Larry Niven's communicator discs)
As far as I know, the first example of a machine being able to translate and understand speech was the speech rectifier from Hugo Gernsback's 1911 classic Ralph 124c 41 +.
For other science fictional (yet real!) devices, take a look at the LingoPhone and the Phraselator P2 (in use in Iraq). Take a look at IBM Strives for 'Superhuman' Speech Tech; saw this one on /.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/26/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.
SmileCloud Bubloons Are Custom Clouds
'Spurgle kicked at the letter G... It was a monstrous white thing, ten feet thick, half a city block long...' - Alan Nelson, 1953.
Fog Computing (AKA Edge Computing) Ad Hoc Networks
'The tiny devices chirped their impulse codes at one another...' - Vernor Vinge, 1999.
Biggest HiSeas 'Mars Mission' Problem? No Internet
I think sf writers have this covered!
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Orwell's Memory Hole Looms Larger Thanks To Nvidia
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'
Pipefish Robot Checks Pipes Cheap
Just like capsule endoscopy, but for bigger pipes. That go underground.
Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.'
NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.
Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'
SciFiQ Science Fiction Writing Aid
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'
Robot Only Faster, Not Better, At Recycling
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'
Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.'
Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.
Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?
Elon Musk Fears A 'Fleet-Wide Hack' Of Autonomous Vehicles
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'
iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.
Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'
Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.
RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories