March 12, 2012 at 12:56 PM ET
Learning a second language is a major hassle. Thanks to researchers at Microsoft, we may no longer have to bother. They've built software that translates your voice into a foreign tongue.
The tool, demonstrated March 6 during a tech conference at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., learns your voice with an hour of training. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
With your voice in the bag, the program works similar to other text-to-speech tools that take text in one language and speak it in another. But instead of a creepy synthesized voice, it sounds close to yours.
The program can currently translate between 26 languages, including English, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish, according to research scientist Frank Soong.
A translation tool loaded with this software could, for example, give users more confidence that the true intent of their words gets across when using it to negotiate a business deal in a foreign country.
Intonation, emphasis, and dramatic pauses, for example, also play a role.
"Those things matter," he added, " and this project clearly knows that."
- Via Technology Review
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