Google Translate to get transcribe mode for live translation of speeches

Google Translate's new transcribe mode will provide real-time speech translation.
Image: Google

Google Translate has been a revolutionary tool for those that need to switch between multiple languages. It has been most effective in situations where users can type short phrases into their phone or computer. However, in recent years it has added features like photo scanning that allows users to translate text with their camera.

Soon, Google Translate will get a new feature that is perhaps even more helpful. An upcoming transcribe mode will translate lengthy lectures and even foreign movies in real-time. It will reportedly use artificial intelligence (AI) text recognition to provide accurate translations.

Lecture Lifesaver

Google announced the new addition to Translate on Tuesday at a San Francisco press event. It also showed off other artificial intelligence projects. However, Google Translate’s upcoming transcribe mode is one of the most applicable in the short-term. Bryan Lin, an engineer from the team working on the app, says that it will arrive sometime in the coming months. However, there is still no official timeline.

As of now, Google is testing the feature with several languages, including Spanish, German, and French. It is expected to work with a much larger selection of languages eventually.

According to Lin, the real-time translation will take place on Google’s servers. This is likely due to the intense artificial intelligence processing that is needed. Unfortunately, it means that users will need to have a constant Internet connection in order to use the feature—at least during its launch.

On top of this, transcribe mode will only work with live audio captured by a smartphone. Of course, users could easily sidestep this hindrance by playing recorded audio through the speakers of another device.

The app will then translate speech in real-time, evaluating words and adding punctuation as it goes. In the background, AI will analyze the context of each sentence to provide the most accurate translation possible. Users will see a translated version of the speech transcribed on their device.

Better with Age

Since Google Translate’s transcribe mode is powered by AI, it will likely take some time to reach its peak. Once it is released, there will surely be some strange translations. While the AI learns, it may not be able to properly translate unique turns of phrase or slang that belongs to a certain language or regional dialect.

Fortunately, Google has said that the transcribe tool will only get better with time. It will analyze the various transcriptions that users create to continue improving the AI model that powers it.

Despite the fact that it will take time to perform optimally the new feature will provide an accurate approximation of what it hears immediately upon its release. Even complex speeches should be instantly translatable.

For those that enjoy attending lectures given in another language, this tool will be very valuable. Although real-time translation isn’t necessarily new, having it a tap away in the already-popular Google Translate app will be a nice addition.

When it first arrives, transcribe mode will only be accessible on Android devices. Eventually, it should become available on all microphone-equipped devices, but how long that will take remains unclear.


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