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Q: Voice recongition & auto translation over the phone... (techtor, lot) ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Voice recongition & auto translation over the phone... (techtor, lot)
Category: Computers
Asked by: octopia-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 26 Jan 2003 20:32 PST
Expires: 25 Feb 2003 20:32 PST
Question ID: 148932
Hi everyone!

Special thanks to techtor & lot for there answers, and everyone else
for their efforts…

This is something that I heard was on research years back and I want
to make sure whether it went commercial or not. I am looking for a
telecom service provider that combines voice recognition with
automatic instant translation. This way, you can speak English at one
end, and the other person would here Spanish on the other end, and
vice versa. Is there such a service, and were can I apply for it?

Request for Question Clarification by feilong-ga on 27 Jan 2003 01:32 PST
Hi Octopia,

Thanks for your very interesting question. I'm a professional language
translator myself (see sample at and
my research did not yield the result that you are looking for. Perhaps
automatic and instant voice-to-voice or speech-to-speech translation
will be made in a few more years. Eexpressing a spoken language to
spoken another language can be hard depending on the source and target
language and is made even harder by other factors such as emotion,
diction, speed of pronounciation, etcetera, which only a human
translator can understand at random. To make it much more complex, a
service provider would need a lot of computing power since this is an
automatic and instant translation service. Imagine thousands, perhaps
millions, of voice messages being translated in real-time -- this
would be one of the biggest WOWS in computing history ever, although
this is not an impossibility. Major errors can also occur. For
example, the question "what's that on the road ahead?" could possibly
be misinterpreted by the system as "what's that on the road? A head?"
Without human intervention, such errors will frequently occur.

So far, I found service providers who can do interactive
interpretation using human translators. The system works using
conference call, with you, the translator, and the receiving party.
This is the best solution I can find for you as far as my research is
concerned. Errors can also be avoided because the translator can
analyze and verify what you said.

Given the reasons above, I will not post my answer unless you concur.
If you do, please reply so I can post my answer. Thank you.


Clarification of Question by octopia-ga on 29 Jan 2003 05:14 PST
Hi Fielong, 

This just very exciting! Yes, this is something that I want to look
into. Having live translator is a lot better option, but I am worried
about the cost involved. I know that hiring an instant translator at
the destination country would be more cost-effective, I am curious
about how the conference call model would work in this case. Do you
mean that they provide a live translator on-site, and they run a
conference call between you and the other party – passing by live

Request for Question Clarification by feilong-ga on 29 Jan 2003 12:13 PST
Hi Octopia,

In response to your query:

"Do you mean that they provide a live translator on-site, and they run
a conference call between you and the other party – passing by live

The company I found helps businesses to communicate effectively witn
non-English speaking customers. For this example, I'll call you "O",
"T" is the translator,  "NE" is the Non-English speaker, and "CO" is
the company's officer.

NE will dial a special phone number that will connect him directly to
T who speaks his language. In your case, it's Spanish. NE and the T
are conferenced with a CO, who evaluates the caller's need.

CO then conferences NE and T with an appropriate person within the
relevant company or organisation, be it a manufacturer, retailer,
service provider or public authority. In your case, the call will be
connected to you since NE already knows who he wants to talk to. If
you are the one to call NE, you will also do the same, i.e, dial a
special phone number that will connect you to T and ...etcetera -- I
believe you get the picture. :-)

Yes, It might be a bit costly because you and the other party is going
to use a special communications system, but the important thing is
that you and your Spanish client will get each other's messages
clearly and accurately. What's more, the translator will surely make
verifications along the way if a message is a bit unclear to him and
you will always have the option to change or correct your messages
almost instantly to Spanish.

As Lot mentioned, machine translations can be inaccurate in structure,
strength, tone or meaning. Text translations are not also perfect, as
exemplified by Tar_heel_v-ga's comment in the sample link I previously
gave you.

Below are the services of this company I'm telling you about:

1) Interpretaion (spoken translation) services:
Phone conferencing
Video conferencing

2) Written translation
4) Voice-over recordings

With regards to the actual cost, I believe it's a case-to-case basis
since the system will need someone (the CO) to evaluate the needs
before your message can go through. Unfortunately, I can't afford to
make a long distance call to the company to inquire on this (I'm in
the Philippines) but if you can wait, because it might take time, I
can email them and inquire about this. You can also decide if you want
me to post now the info/details I found as an answer.

Clarification of Question by octopia-ga on 02 Feb 2003 21:21 PST
First of all, I really appreciate the efforts that you have put to
explain this…

Here are some comments:
	Translation from English to Non-english speakers is exactly what I
am looking for. You are right on.
	Equipment (rental) cost is an important factor, but I am worried
about is the call cost. I am planning to go international with this
operation. So, it’s important to know how many parties will be
	Cost of translations: Also very important. What I was referring is
the capabilities to have an off-site translator involved. What I am
shooting for is this: if I hire an English-Japanese translator in
Japan, it might more feasible that in where the communication company
is based. The problem is that this will involve three concurrent
connections to NE, T, and O. Putting the cost aside, is it possible to
have an off-site translator involved or not?
	CO: I am still not sure about his role, but I am sure this would
help to cut costs.
	Connectivity: I am not sure whether this would be posted on their
website or not, but it would make a lot of difference if their
equipment could connect Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) to originate calls
through the Internet.

Thanks and please send me some feedback on these comments…

Clarification of Question by octopia-ga on 08 Feb 2003 09:07 PST
Hi Feilong, 

Haven't heard from you in a while. Hope everything is going well...

Request for Question Clarification by techtor-ga on 09 Feb 2003 06:40 PST
Hello, Octopia. Feilong asked me to tell you that he is still working
on your question... he just encountered a few technical problems on
his computer recently. He'll be up and running again soon. :)

Clarification of Question by octopia-ga on 09 Feb 2003 08:20 PST
Thanks, Techtor. Wish the everything will go smoothly with getting
Fielong's pc up-and-running...

Request for Question Clarification by feilong-ga on 09 Feb 2003 10:42 PST
Hi Octopia,

I am now back at last. I had a fatal error on my HD and I had to get
another drive, setup my system, and recover my files, which I did but
some were lost -- including my Google Answers file. Luckily, I still
remember the site that I'm telling you about in our clarifications
which, I think, will provide you with the service that you need. With
regards to my email about the cost of their service, there is no reply
so far. Since you are in urgent need of a solution, I shall provide
you the link and contact number of the company so that you can make
your own inquiry. Please let me know if you are pleased with the link
and that it's the kind of service you are looking for. Here is the
site that I'm describing in our clarifications:

TalkBack (tm) by EITI  Ltd. (

Contact info:
EITI  Ltd.
EITI House
East Yorkshire
DN14 7AE
United Kingdom
Tel   0870 701 2020 
Fax   01430 435301

Please tell me if you will accept this as an answer so that I can
continue searching for other similar sites and finally post an answer
to this question. For the meantime, I have to finalize setting up my
system. Thank you for your patience and understanding. :-)

Best regards,

Request for Question Clarification by feilong-ga on 14 Feb 2003 12:03 PST
Hi Octopia,

Haven't heard from you in a while. Hope everything is going well... ;-)

Did you find the link suitable for your need? Can I post an answer now?

Clarification of Question by octopia-ga on 19 Feb 2003 23:51 PST
Hi Fielong, 

Just been back, sorry for the late reply. 

I am contacting the company name to ask about that. Generally,
everything seems to be OK for posting the answer. If there are similar
companies too, that would really help.

Thanks for everything...
Subject: Re: Voice recongition & auto translation over the phone... (techtor, lot)
Answered By: feilong-ga on 21 Feb 2003 07:14 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Octopia,

Thanks for giving me the go signal to post an answer. Since you
already know how the first solution I gave you works, I will not
elaborate on the details anymore. I will include the details here
simply to formalize the answer that I have provided you. Regarding the
the links, simply press the "Shift" key before clicking on a link so
it will open a new window or right-click on the link and choose "Open
in New Window" for your convenience.

TalkBack (tm) by EITI  Ltd. (
Contact info:
EITI  Ltd.
EITI House
East Yorkshire
DN14 7AE
United Kingdom
Tel   0870 701 2020 
Fax   01430 435301

There's another company offering a similar service (perhaps better),
Language Line ( offers the following

Telephone interpreting

Face-to-face interpreting

Text Translations

Text to Speech

Support and Consultancy

Contact Info:
Language Line Limited
11-21 Northdown Street
London, U.K.
N1 9BN
Telephone:+44 (0)20 7520 1430
Fax:+44 (0)20 7520 1450

Here's something that is of interest to you:

Universal translators move into the real world
By Ephraim Schwartz
InfoWorld Electric
Posted at 5:22 PM PT, Nov 10, 1999

"Star Trek technology will come to life when ViA demonstrates its
version of a universal translator. Similar to the devices used by the
members of the United Federation of Planets, ViA's device is partially
funded by the U.S. Navy and performs voice-to-voice translation with a
wearable PC, head set, and speaker.

While ViA's device can not translate Klingon to Romulan, it does
interpret seven other languages including Mandarin Chinese, English,
French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Users can talk into
the microphone in one language and it will come out through a speaker
in the second language."

Following up on the links provided in the article, I found these
resources that can truly be of help. So far, the nearest solution I
found that fits your original query comes from VIA. I know you'll be
excited. Just click on the link below:

Language Translator

"ViA's Mobile Language Translation System (MLTS) is a breakthrough in
speech translation technology. The MLTS consists of ViA's patented
Transmeta-based ViA II PC, a hand-held touch display along with ViA's
language translation software, a microphone and body-worn speaker.
ViA's bi-directional, free-speech language software, enables an
English speaking person and a second person speaking a different
language to converse. Because the system runs on ViA's wearable PC,
users can translate speech anywhere."

Languages supported:
English to and from Spanish, with future plans to support English to
French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic. THIS is the kind of
automated solution you are looking for. However, let me remind you
that although this sounds nifty, errors will most likely be more
frequent which could affect your business dealings. I'm not
discouraging you. It is just a point you should consider.

Here are other solutions that can be of help:

ScanSoft Inc.
ScanSoft RealSpeak™ -- Text-to-Speech (TTS) solution

ScanSoft RealSpeak is available in 19 languages.

Perhaps the cheapest solution for you is to learn the language
yourself. It may take time but you will definitely be "engaged in this
rich multimedia experience, you may never feel like you're studying,
and the fact that you are actually using Spanish becomes transparent."
Here are solutions from Transparent

SpanishNow! V9 Deluxe -- $39.95

Of course business means paperwork and you certainly have to be
careful with reading and understanding important documents.
Transparent also has another solution for you:

EasyTranslator 4 Deluxe -- Get quick, easy translations in Spanish,
French, German, English, Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese.
EasyTranslator 4 Deluxe Translates in 12 International Languages:

• English to Spanish
• English to French
• English to German
• English to Italian
• English to Portuguese
• English to Japanese
• French to English
• German to English
• Spanish to English
• Italian to English
• Portuguese to English
• Japanese to English

Other Sources:

Here's another article I found that has links to free online
translations similar to the links given by Lot in the comments
New FreeTranslation Site Offers Instant Web Page and Text Translations

Here's a device that could give you a language solution in the future,
the UT-203 Universal Translator.
UT-203 Universal Translator

Currently, it provides language solution for English, Russian, and
German. However, the possibility of having one customized for you is
very much available. Find out more about it through the link below:
UTs made-to-order

Email Anton Epifanov at

Perhaps you can find other solutions that can be of great help to you
through the links in the below.

QuickLinks - Multilingual content and software

Search strategy:

"english to spanish" "voice to voice" in Google web search

"voice to voice" translation

As always, it is a pleasure helping a loyal Google Answers user like
you. I certainly hope this helps. Should you have any
comments/questions, please feel free to post your clarification before
rating this and I'll attend to you as soon as possible. Thanks for
asking and.

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by octopia-ga on 07 Mar 2003 03:38 PST
Hi Fielong, 

sorry not being able to attend to your answer any earlier. It was just
another big dive for me.

Anyway, thanks and wish you all the best...

Clarification of Answer by feilong-ga on 07 Mar 2003 06:11 PST

Thanks for the great rating and generous tip. I hope I can help you
again next time.

Best regards,
octopia-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
As expected, Fielong went the extra mile to dilver the right answer.
It's just amazing, the results that you get when there is an expert on
the other end.

Subject: Re: Voice recongition & auto translation over the phone... (techtor, lot)
From: lot-ga on 28 Jan 2003 13:44 PST
Hello Octopia-ga

These might be interesting links:
Center for Machine Translation
Janus system
Pangloss system Mark III
1996 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review news article about it here

There is a lot of voice recognition software is out there e.g. 
It's not inconceivable that a 'speech to text' system can be devised,
the text could then be tranlated into the other language (in text
form) e.g like that at
World Lingo
then the translated text converted to speech, which any desktop
machine can perform these days (My Mac has had a text to speech
facility since 1995 i.e. reads out documents).
So: Speech to text > text is tranlated > text to speech could be
but you would need a developer to undertake the task.
Speech to translated directly to speech is more difficult (perhaps).

However as feilong has pointed out machine translations can be rather
inaccurate in structure, strength, tone or meaning. Even text
translations are not perfect, just test drive World Lingo and you will
find out, but as far as automation goes I guess that's to be expected.
WorldLingo also offer translations by humans if you want a more
precise service, but as such don't offer realtime speech translations.

Subject: Re: Voice recongition & auto translation over the phone... (techtor, lot)
From: octopia-ga on 29 Jan 2003 05:15 PST
Hi Lot, Thanks a million for these resources. I am checking them out
now, and will update you soon....
Subject: Re: Voice recongition & auto translation over the phone... (techtor, lot)
From: arimathea-ga on 20 Feb 2003 11:42 PST

General Magic had a solution that they were going to roll out at some
point, but they went out of business.

Best of luck in your search.

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