Google translate Google’s free online Translate service has been a popular tool, but the company has big ambitions. In May, it bought Quest Visual, which makes the clever Word Lens app. That involves pointing your smartphone’s camera at signs in the real world for instant translations.
Google Glass Visual translation is also moving to wearable devices such as Google Glass. Word Lens launched for Glass last November and involves holding your head still while looking at a sign, then saying: « OK Glass, translate this. »
Skype Translator Microsoft, for example, has shown off an app, Skype Translator, which provides translations as people speak to one another in different languages. It will launch for Windows 8 devices later this year and has been compared to the Universal Translator gadget in « Star Trek ».
EBay The online shopping giant is also very interested in « machine translation » – in its case, to automatically translate listing details on its websites and apps. eBay has also said it’s interested in making more tools using translation: for example, instant messaging software for sellers and potential buyers to chat about a product even if they don’t speak the same language.
Twitter Bing Translate is a feature powered by Microsoft’s technology – to translate tweets from different languages. Users who have the feature on the iPhone Twitter app can tap on tweets to see a translation.
Sign Language It’s not just words that can be translated: sign language is a good candidate too. Microsoft has worked with Kinect Sign Language Translator, using the Xbox camera and motion-detection accessory to translate sign language into text and spoken language.
Online meetings Real-time translation for businesses is coming. HP is working with a startup called SpeedTrans to translate conference calls while they’re in progress, claiming to be able to handle conversations of any length in 44 languages. Its competition with Microsoft’s Skype Translate should ensure swift progress in this field.