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Google unveils instant language translator that lets people hold conversations in real time

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 08/01/2019 James Titcomb

The tech giant has unveiled an “interpreter mode” for its voice-controlled speakers that allow two people speaking different languages to hold conversations in real time. © getty The tech giant has unveiled an “interpreter mode” for its voice-controlled speakers that allow two people speaking different languages to hold conversations in real time. The days of arriving at a hotel when abroad only to be lost for words when unable to understand the receptionist could be over after Google unveiled a real-life Babel fish system for translating foreign languages.

The tech giant has unveiled an “interpreter mode” for its voice-controlled speakers that allow two people speaking different languages to hold conversations in real time.

It says the service will make it easier for hotel concierge desks to check guests in. The technology could also be used at airports and train stations, or make business presentations less likely to be lost in translation.

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The interpreter mode works on the Google Home range of smart speakers, which are controlled with voice commands, and is able to translate 27 languages.

The system is launched by saying a phrase such as “Help me speak French”. The device then transcribes what one person says in their language, translates it, and reads it out in the other person’s native tongue.

The Google Assistant showcases new features of its voice-enabled digital assistant that includes an "interpreter mode" that enables some of Google's smart home devices to work as a translator as the translator helps as an English speaker is able to understand a French pastry chef speaking French at the Google display area at CES International. © getty The Google Assistant showcases new features of its voice-enabled digital assistant that includes an "interpreter mode" that enables some of Google's smart home devices to work as a translator as the translator helps as an English speaker is able to understand a French pastry chef speaking French at the Google display area at CES International. The technology is an extension of Google’s online translation software, which the company claims can now translate some languages almost as accurately as professional interpreters.

It has already begun testing the feature at hotels in Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York but hopes it could become a regular at check-in desks.

Google unveiled the interpreter mode at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, the tech industry’s annual jamboree at which companies unveil their inventions for the new year.

The company also announced a “smart” alarm clock system that uses internet-connected lights to gradually rouse sleepers, which it said was more effective at waking people up than a regular alarm. © getty The company also announced a “smart” alarm clock system that uses internet-connected lights to gradually rouse sleepers, which it said was more effective at waking people up than a regular alarm. The company also announced a “smart” alarm clock system that uses internet-connected lights to gradually rouse sleepers, which it said was more effective at waking people up than a regular alarm.

It has also integrated its virtual assistant software with an assortment of internet connected gadgets, from smart pressure cookers to wine refrigerators, to let them be controlled using voice commands.

Google said the interpreter mode would come to smart speakers that use its Google Home software in the next few weeks.

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