What is Speech to Speech Translation?

No longer in the realm of science fiction, the concept of a real-time universal translator is currently in the works as pioneering companies such as Google and Facebook are acquiring and developing technologies that support speech recognition, language translation, and speech synthesis. In 2006, an advancement that led to the development and use of layered models of inputs, termed deep neural networks (DNN), brought speech recognition to its highest level of accuracy yet, clearing the way for speech-to-speech translation. As a result, today’s consumers are habitually interacting with voice-activated virtual assistants on their mobile phones and even in their vehicles with greater ease and comfort. Researchers are now applying DNN to automatic translation engines in efforts to increase the semantic accuracy of interpreting the world’s languages, and Microsoft engineers have already demo-ed software that can synthesize an individual’s own voice in another language, from English to Mandarin. Progress in machine learning technologies is bringing the universal translator closer to the consumer’s hand, and is poised to transform communication and collaboration at the global level.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The effect of the speech-to-speech translation projects will allow students to easily conduct real-time conversations with anyone, anywhere, without the language barrier.- kathyschrock kathyschrock Jan 30, 2015
  • Huge potential to open up communication in international collaborative projects, e.g. 23 languages are used in eTwinning (40 000 projects in 140 000 schools currently http://www.etwinning.net). It's still not a substitute for learning a language (and its culture) though! - roger.blamire roger.blamire Feb 11, 2015
  • This technology and 'intelligence' behind speech to speech translation has much to offer those with disabilities, enabling speech to be converted into different forms, not just speech, e.g. text, more accurately than previously. - roger.blamire roger.blamire Feb 11, 2015
  • Teachers and students are able to collaborate with others from around the globe, bringing new perspectives. I see teachers using this to collaborate with ELL students and their families.- cbsteighner cbsteighner Feb 14, 2015
  • As an educator in a school where 40% of students come from ESL backgrounds, moving towards Speech to Speech translation could have a massive impact. The current batch of electronic translators and software applications are limited and time consuming and students miss content. Potential for a student to be recording and translating a teacher in their mother tongue closer to real time- a big step- mtaylor mtaylor Feb 15, 2015 So true. Would help immensely in our ELL classrooms. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 22, 2015
  • We use several translating apps for for parent conferences....has been extremely useful and helpful. Though not exactly accurate, these tools open-up a more honest dialogue. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Feb 16, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The paragraph above does not seem to indicate that the impact on global business will be huge.- kathyschrock kathyschrock Jan 30, 2015
  • This technology will also allow for greater service learning opportunities as students can travel to regions they may not share a language with and interact with local people. - acarter acarter Feb 6, 2015
  • I think the huge potential is in education delivery. It would allow concepts of English as a Second Language to move to 'Language' as a Second Language. In a single classroom of Chinese, Korean and Japanese students Speech to Speech translation would make a big difference to learning for ALL students in the classroom.- mtaylor mtaylor Feb 15, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • There is no question that real-time communication with teachers and students from other countries, without the language barrier, will result in many more collaborative opportunities for all. Students could as easily create media for film festival with someone from another country, with no problems with communication.- kathyschrock kathyschrock Jan 30, 2015
  • By overcoming the language barrier, this technology will help "flatten the walls" of the global classroom, as it will allow millions of students to interact with each other in global collaboration projects on platforms such a iEarn, tigED, Flat Connections and more. For example, all of the global collaboration projects currently being offered (such as those on this site http://www.asacollective.org/) will soon be able to communicate across cultures, regardless of language spoken. - acarter acarter Feb 6, 2015- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 22, 2015
  • Beyond flattening walls, this technology has the power to strengthen and unite school communities with high percentages of ELLs.- cbsteighner cbsteighner Feb 14, 2015- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 22, 2015
  • The potential I see is the improved ability for educators to reduce the language barrier from the classroom and focus on the learning needs eg is the student struggling because of language issues or learning issues is something I am confroned with regularly- mtaylor mtaylor Feb 15, 2015 - michael.lambert michael.lambert Feb 16, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • I know Skype is poised to launch real-time speech-to-speech translation. Sign up here for a preview: http://www.skype.com/en/translator-preview/- kathyschrock kathyschrock Jan 30, 2015

  • The most awesome project I have seen (pretty much in my life) is the UNI project from http://motionsavvy.com It is a sign language-to-speech translator coupled with a speech-to-text translator, that allows a person who is deaf to communicate easily. It takes advantage of the LEAP Motion engine for translating the sign language into speech. - kathyschrock kathyschrock Jan 30, 2015
  • Sadly- no- mtaylor mtaylor Feb 15, 2015

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.