From the Get App-y archives:
Originally published in The Oklahoman June 14, 2011
Get App-y: Speak now with another language
Going abroad this summer? Want to communicate with someone in another language? Order in Italian at an Italian restaurant?
Naturally, your smart phones and tablets are here to help break down communication barriers with mobile applications that allow you speak into the device and have your words translated into another language.
SpeechTrans, with voice recognition powered by Nuance, has several apps for various iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, ranging from free to $27.99. Google Translate is available free for both Android and iOS.
Speech recognition and translation software while not perfect has gotten much better since the last time I played around with it years ago.
John Frei, SpeechTrans’ co-founder and chief executive, agreed, saying that his app can reach 95 percent accuracy thanks to its partnership with Nuance, a leader in speech recognition. Nuance is behind the popular verbal texting app called Dragon Dictation.
Frei, 36, said the idea for his app stemmed from moving between Switzerland and the United States several times as a child, since his dad was Swiss. He wished he had a way to help him pick up the languages faster.
Three years ago, in an “a-ha moment,” he started using Internet tools to piece together speech-to-speech translation.
“I knew I was onto something. It was very exciting,” he said.
Future updates include developing SpeechTrans for Android systems, and Frei foresees a time when the camera can recognize sign language and turn it into an audio recording.
To use SpeechTrans, choose the language you’re speaking and the one for the translation. Press “record” and start speaking. When you finish, the app will translate and play your words in the other language.
For the written word, check out WordLens from QuestVisual, which uses your camera to translate on screen. A demonstration is free, but each translation (English to Spanish or Spanish to English) costs $9.99 as an in- app purchase.
~ By Lillie-Beth Brinkman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
YOUR TURN TO WIN
To win your own copy of SpeechTrans for the iPad, enter by emailing me with your name and contact information at email@example.com or post a comment below, and I’ll have a drawing Friday to pick the winner. Like I said in the column, this amazing app can have many uses. Put “SpeechTrans” in the subject line of your email, and let me know how you’d use it or tell me your favorite apps, and you’ll be entered. Check out the regular Get App-y column on most Tuesdays!