CUT­TING THROUGH THE BABEL

Apple Magazine - - Ces 2019 -

Google has trans­formed CES into a Dis­ney­like theme park — com­plete with singing an­i­ma­tronic mac­arons — to show­case new fea­tures of its voice-en­abled dig­i­tal as­sis­tant.

This in­cludes an “in­ter­preter mode” that en­ables some of Google’s smart home de­vices to work as a trans­la­tor. It’s be­ing pi­loted at a ho­tel concierge desk near the Las Ve­gas tech con­fer­ence and rolls out to con­sumer de­vices in sev­eral weeks.

Voice as­sis­tants are get­ting pretty good at trans­lat­ing speech into text, but it’s a thornier chal­lenge in artificial in­tel­li­gence to en­able real-time trans­la­tion across dif­fer­ent lan­guages. Google’s new fea­ture ex­pands upon real-time trans­la­tion ser­vices it’s rolled out to An­droid phones and head­phones over the past year.

This is the sec­ond year that Google As­sis­tant had made a huge splash at CES in an effort to out­bid Ama­zon’s Alexa as the voice as­sis­tant of choice.

Google this year has an amuse­ment park ride that re­sem­bles Dis­ney’s “It’s a Small World,” though on a roller-coaster-like train at slow speeds. Talk­ing and singing char­ac­ters show­case Google’s var­i­ous voice-as­sis­tant fea­tures as vis­i­tors ride along.

Google isn’t the only CES ex­hibitor promis­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of in­stant trans­la­tion. Chi­nese AI firm iF­lytek has been show­ing of its trans­la­tion apps and de­vices that are al­ready pop­u­lar among Chi­nese trav­el­ers. And at least two star­tups, New York-based Waverly Labs and China-based TimeKet­tle, are pro­mot­ing their ear­buds that work as in-ear trans­la­tion de­vices.

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