Google’s next ‘moonshot’: Tearing down language barriers
Google’s “moonshots” — that is, projects that the company pursues even if they seem far-fetched — are one of its defining features. Spiegel reports that Google’s Translate team has enormous ambitions to eventually eliminate language barriers with the development of a voice-enabled universal translation system. Although such a system is certainly a long way off, Google has already started working on a voice-enabled translator smartphone app that can translate roughly 24 different languages so far.
Franz Josef Och, who leads Google’s Translate department, admits to Spiegel that this voice-enabled translator is fairly slow and clunky right now but he points to improvements in Google’s text-based Translation service over the years and projects that the app will grow by similar leaps and bounds. The biggest barriers remain nailing down the more subtle nuances of language such as syntax and ambiguity.