Rumors have resurfaced about a device being developed by Google that could act as an interpreter.
Google’s gadget would not be quite as high-tech as those seen in science fiction shows such as Star Trek and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, but could convert spoken words into another language in real-time through a receiver.
Google’s vice president of Android, Hugo Barra, told The Times the device is an option and more recent developments in its Google Translate software could make it a reality.
Google’s universal translator could work in a similar way to the devices used by Captain Kirk, pictured left played by William Shatner and Bones, played by DeForest Kelley in Star Trek
Alternatively, the device could be fitted to people’s clothes as seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation, pictured. In the show, UT devices were fitted to the communication pins of the crew including Data and Captain Picard
STAR-TREK STYLE TRANSLATORS
The universal translator (UT) was a device used in Star Trek to translate alien languages.
In the early series of Star Trek, the UTs were shaped like tubes.
In Star Trek: Enterprise the UTs looked similar to a flip phone.
In Star Trek: Next Generation, UTs are built into the communication pins on Starfleet uniforms.
Ferengis, including Quark from Deep Space Nine, have implants in their ear from birth.
One exception is the Klingon language, which mostly can’t be translated.
Barra told The Times: ‘We’ve got tons of protoypes of that sort of interaction and I’ve played it every other week to see how much progress we’ve made.’
But he added that the software is still several years away from being ready.
Barra also explained that some translations are ‘near-perfect’, such as English to Portuguese, while others are not.
Universal translation devices were a common feature across the different Star Trek series.
Ensign Hoshi Sato, a communications officer on the Enterprise in Star Trek: Enterprise, uses the translator to invent the linguacode matrix.
By the 24th century, universal translators are built into the communicator pins worn by Starfleet personnel and the Ferengi race wear their universal translators as implants in their ears.
In the Douglas Adam book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, a small fish is inserted into the ear of a person.
It can then read mental frequencies and translate conversations.
Google’s plans first emerged in 2010 when Franz Och, Google’s head of translation services, hinted that speech-to-speech translation should be possible ‘in a few year’s time.’
Google’s Translate app, as well as other apps on the market, can already translate text from one language to another.
They can also translate speech into text, yet they are not capable of converting speech to speech at the moment and voice translation has its limitations.
In the Douglas Adam book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a small fish that acts like an interpreter is inserted into the ear of a person. Dubbed Babel Fish, pictured, it can then read mental frequencies and translate conversations
Ferengis, such as Quark pictured from the TV series Deep Space Nine, are fitted with universal translation devices in their ears at birth
Voice-recognition on the apps and software also needs to be developed because background noise or poor microphones affects the accuracy of the recognition.
Google Translate currently works with 71 languages, but there are around 6,000 languages worldwide leaving the service a little short.
In February last year, Och admitted that any universal translation devices would also need to adapt to its user by ‘learning’ their style of talking.
‘Everyone has a different voice, accent and pitch,’ said Mr Och.
‘But recognition should be effective with mobile phones because by nature they are personal to you.’
Recent developments in the Google Translate software, pictured, could make a universal translation device a reality. Google Translate currently works with 71 languages, but there are around 6,000 languages worldwide leaving the service a little short
Attribution: Victoria Woollaston, Mail Online