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Star Trek becomes reality as Microsoft 'Universal Translator' turns spoken English into any of 26 different languages

March 20, 2012 | Hogan Keyser
  • Software speaks in user's own voice
  • Can translate into languages from Spanish to Mandarin
  • Speaks smoothly in sentences, not individual words
  • Could be built into smartphone language apps

james_t_kirk.jpgWilliam Shatner as James T Kirk: The new device is similar to the Universal Translator used in Star Trek, and takes around one hour to get used to a person's voice then works by comparing the words that have been recorded with stock models for the target language

March 13, 2012 by Rob Waugh via
-- It has long been used by James T Kirk to speak to aliens and blue women from space - but now Microsoft is on the brink of making a real, working Universal Translator.

Frank Soong and Rick Rashid have created software which converts English language speech into any of 26 foreign languages - and which 'speaks' in the user's own voice.

All the user has to do is speak English into the machine and it will convert it into anything from Spanish to Mandarin.

The hope is that the device will one day allow visitors to foreign countries to have conversations with other people, even though they do not speak the same language - just like in Star Trek.

Mr Soong told Technology Review that his breakthrough could help language students and might also work with navigational devices.

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