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Microsoft demos instant English-Chinese translation - 2013-09-12

Software that can translate spoken English to Chinese and preserve intonation and cadence has been demonstrated by Microsoft. It translates almost instantly.


Breakthroughs in research helped Microsoft to reduce the number of errors in the field of instant translation. Applying a new technology cut error rates to about 15% from the previous 20-25%. The result is still not perfect and there is much to be done but it seems that Microsoft is on a good path. There is speech recognition in most of their products like Windows, XBOX Kinect, Office and Windows Phone already.
The new technique called Deep Neural Networks, which is patterned after human brain behavior.

During the presentation, Rick Rashid, the head of Microsoft research had the opportunity to show how the translation works. One of the main surprise was that he was able to present in Chinese in his own voice. It required a text to speech system that Microsoft researchers built using a few hours speech of a native Chinese speaker and properties of Rashid’s voice taken from about one hour of pre-recorded English data.

Though it was a limited test, the effect was dramatic, and the audience came alive in response.
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