Millennium Post

Language, not a barrier!

Language, not a barrier!

There are roughly 6,500 languages in the world and while 2,000 of them have less than 1,000 speakers, the figure is still astounding. Now, language is first important as the precursor for communication. And, humans are social animals. Our world cannot be conceived without languages facilitating exchange. At the same time, despite us accommodating so many distinct languages, over time, people speaking different tongues have still managed to communicate. This was further eased with the advent of technology. Once the tech world embraced socialisation with its innovative arms, difference became less tangible. A person speaking Spanish could find their way in Asia without needing a constant language expert – how the world had operated until technology revolutionised the globe in the20th-21st century. Multilingualism was a thing of rarity and still is. However, technology has now bridged the gap that was exclusively the domain of experts. Translation technology has revamped the communication paradigm between two different tongues. The world was brought even closer through these efforts. Yes, not as fluent and consequently, not as accurate. But, effective! A person speaking sparse English could still manage to connect to others. But just as the internet was once a privilege carrying the scope of connecting the world, and the computer did single functions running on binary coding, passing years witnessed exponential advancement. So, if Moore's law got us hitched in believing that computer (read technology) was bound to have an unprecedented rise, then so can language translation through technology. The hiccups that language translator devices and software still encounter are accredited to its nascency. We should not rule out that tomorrow we could have French, Greek, Mandarin speakers in our homes and our smart devices would tell us what exactly they are saying. That is what the new Google Assistant feature is capable of accomplishing. Piloting the feature now at concierge desks at Caesars Palace, Dream Downtown in New York City and Hyatt in San Francisco, Google Assistant's 'Interpreter' can be the multilingual expert the world wished for when they first tasted translation tech. At CES, the world's largest technology show, Google unveiled the Assistant's Interpreter mode, which aims to serve as a go-between for people who don't speak the same language. Just say "Hey Google, be my Japanese interpreter" and you'll hear a beep with the Assistant asking you to start speaking. After you utter your next sentence in English, you'll hear another beep followed by the software repeating the sentence in Japanese. The translated text is also displayed on the screen just to ascertain its effectiveness. The tool works in 27 languages, including Spanish, Czech, Hindi and Vietnamese. While this mode works along the same line as Google's translator app, it is here to streamline the irregularities and provide a more user-friendly experience. The interpreter mode looks to be headed the same way as WhatsApp. WhatsApp breached messaging barriers by revolutionising a phone's messaging feature with real-time messaging. That was a significant leap. However, when we talk about these digital assistants trying to make things convenient for us, the user experience is not always pleasant. Reviewers have often brought technical glitches as decisive cons to its use. Sometimes, the beep may not be precise, the assistant might not have been able to eliminate external noise, among others. But features like noise cancellation, precise hearing and improved preprogrammed conversation rhythms would deal with the existing lacunas. And, that is exactly what Google must aim for. In a bid to provide cut-throat competition to Amazon's Alexa, which currently has an eclipsing market presence, Google needs to transcend beyond regular innovation. And, there is no doubt that it is capable of such a feat given Google's omnipresent reputation and value in the world and its deep footprint in technological history. From a search engine heavyweight to an AI powerhouse, Google has the capacity to own the home automation industry and innovate beyond existing scope. So while Alexa surely tells us the headlines and suggests songs as per our mood, Google can make movie or flight reservations and plan parties with friends through its Assistant (and more). The boundaries are what they set, which is incomprehensible right now because one cannot summit the innovative ambit of technology. We have things we could not even dream of. Google's Duplex restores our faith in that. That technology is setting an appointment with your hairdresser without you having any part in that conversation except appointing the task to it is laudable. And, as far as the market is concerned, every nine out of 10 smartphones shipped out run on Android with a preinstalled Google Assistant, which brings Google's market outreach several times ahead of its competitors' – leaving Siri and Alexa quite concerned!

Editorial

Editorial

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