An Australian startup revealed its flagship product, an earpiece that can interpret 8 different languages in real-time, at a United Nations event in Switzerland on Friday.
Lingmo International, a startup based in West Gosford north of Sydney, launched its TranslateOne2One earpiece at the UN’s Artificial Intelligence for Good Summit in Geneva, revealing that IBM Watson machine learning technology had been used for its algorithms.
Traditionally, converting one language to another orally in real-time is called “interpreting” whereas the term “translation” is reserved for processing text across languages with some delay. Lingmo founder Danny May, however, describes his product as performing “translation in real-time”.
TranslateOne2One can handle English (US and UK), Japanese, French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese.
May started his working life as a fully qualified plumber, before he entered the solar power industry. It was during this phase of his life, four years ago, that he encountered trouble on a business trip to China.
“My passport was stolen literally 4 hours after I landed,” he said.
“I went to a police officer and spoke to him using a competitor’s translation service and said ‘hello, how are you’. But it translated that as ‘hello, I love you’.”
“We’re moving away from that. We’re taking up to a 30-second block, [IBM] Watson then takes it and puts it into a coherent sentence,” he said, adding that field tests indicated people speak for about 15 seconds at a time.
The oral, rather than text, input was also a challenge.