Google is preparing new smartphone translator software that it say will be able to hear speech and translate it instantly.

The software would take the information learned from the company's text translation software, and voice recognition, a feature Google is putting in many smartphones.

It would obviously be basic at first, analysing small segments of speech before translation, but Google believes it would soon be refined with many users, according to Franz Och, Google's head of translation services.

High speed

"We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years' time," he said.

"Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that's what we're working on.

"If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently."

The challenges of voice pitch and accent are the biggest that those working on instant voice translation have encountered, but with Google's vast user base and profile there's a good chance it could be the brand to achieve it.

Via The Times