Language is a medium through which humans communicate with one other. While learning first language is an easy process and begins right from the birth, learning a second language for the conversational purposes is a daunting task. As Nelson Mandela says, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart”. So, not at any time, lessen the willingness to learn a new language.
Realizing this, researchers at Microsoft have built software that translates your voice into a foreign language. The tool can be used either as language tutoring software or as a translator for travelers.
It works similar to other text-to-speech tools that allow text input in one language and speak it in another. However, instead of saving it as creepy synthesized voice the program preserves the actual accent of your voice.
Earlier, to do the same i.e. translate text from one language to another one had to visit a website or check out some travel apps but not anymore! The tool was demonstrated on March 6 by research scientist Frank Soong during a tech conference at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
Microsoft makes claim that the software learns your voice with an hour of training. Moreover, it includes multiple language support and therefore translates between 26 languages, including English, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. In a demonstration, Frank Soong used the voice of Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy, to speak Mandarin and the voice of Microsoft’s Rick Rashid to speak Spanish.
“For a monolingual speaker traveling in a foreign country, we’ll do speech recognition followed by translation, followed by the final text to speech output [in] a different language, but still in his own voice,” said Soong.
In this video, Rick Rashid, Microsoft Chief Research Officer, presents his vision for the future of computing research and the resources Microsoft Research can bring to bear on the evolution of computing.