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How Far Along Are We With Real Time Translation?


Have you ever heard of the concept of real-time translations? If you stop and think about it, it's a rather interesting concept but it also sounds like it would be practically impossible to pull off. Imagine trying to translate something from one language to another, yet you're not taking the time to use a translator to do it. Instead, that language is being translated into multiple other languages simultaneously, so quickly in fact that it appears in each individual language almost at the exact same moment that it appears in the original language in which it was written or spoken. It sounds impossible, but thanks to modern technology, it's not only possible, but it's also already happening.

Real Time

Traditionally, translators have been used to translate everything from the written to the spoken word in all types of different situations. It is a painstakingly slow process, especially when translating the written word into another language. The process becomes much slower if that translation involves a substantial piece of work that is several hundred or even several thousand pages long. Even in the case of translating the spoken word, you have to go through a translator in order to do it. By its very nature, this means that the person must speak in their native tongue while the translator listens. The translator then tells the person next to them what the first person was saying. The answer is translated in the same manner. As you can see, this is a time-consuming process but there is potentially a bigger issue here. People rarely say things word for word and it's no different when they're translating something. That means that they may paraphrase something the first person said and in doing so, they've inadvertently changed the entire meaning of what was being said in the first place. To further complicate matters, certain phrases are used in some languages that mean something completely different in other languages. That means that there is a certain amount of error that will naturally occur within the translation. In short, the translation itself is only as good as the person doing it.

These days, technology seems to be changing virtually everything. It also changes the way that human beings interact with each other. In the case of translations, new technology is being used that immediately translates things so that you no longer need to have a third party. A private conversation can now be held between two people that don't even speak the same language, and it all occurs by using special software or an app on a smartphone. In the same way that your computer has a built-in microphone, you utilize this technology and speak normally while whatever you said is translated immediately to appear on the screen. Without a doubt, this has the potential to change the way that people live and work. More importantly, it could potentially bring people closer together, especially when you consider the idea that by using a special app on a smartphone, the age-old problem with the language barrier could be broken permanently.


While this kind of technology has taken some time to develop, it is rapidly becoming a reality and it's better today than ever before. There was a time when only certain products could be used for this. For example, the Google software that was used for real-time translations only worked with a couple of products that were made by, you guessed it, Google. Today, that has changed and you no longer have to have a particular device in order to use the software. You can simply use the device that you already have. Better still, you use it in almost exactly the same way that you would use the voice typing feature on your laptop, as previously mentioned. This advancement in technology marked a major step forward in developing a translator that could potentially work in the real world, at exactly the time that someone would need it as opposed to forcing them to struggle with incorrect or inefficient translations.

In fact, the technology has currently progressed to the point where Google is actually releasing a real-time translator that is capable of translating up to 27 different languages. This is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and when compared to the technology that was available only a few years ago, it's nothing short of amazing. Imagine what it would be like to be able to read or speak in virtually any of the more mainstream languages and then have that translated to something that someone else could easily understand. The implications for this type of technology are truly limitless and as it continues to evolve, it only stands to serve more people in their day-to-day lives.

You might think of business deals that could be done much more quickly because of this type of technology, allowing people to write complicated contracts in various languages without the need for a translator to be on site or for the documents to be poured over for days on end in order to ensure that everything had been documented properly. Without a doubt, this is one of the things that real-time translation can be used for but it certainly isn't the only thing. In fact, there are plenty of uses in places where you might not expect to find such technology in use, yet these are the places that probably need it the most.

Final Thoughts

Imagine the First Responder who’s working a typical day and attempting to help a patient who doesn't speak the same language. It's virtually impossible to find out what's wrong with someone when you can't communicate with them adequately. It's frustrating for both the First Responder and the patient alike. In some cases, issues with manpower or time constraint simply don't allow bringing someone else onto the scene just because they speak that particular language. Imagine what it would be like to be able to pull out your smartphone, click on an app and then simply allow the patient to speak. All of that information could then be translated. The same would be true on your part. You could then ask questions that would be translated into your patient’s native language so that the two of you could communicate effectively. There is no doubt that in cases like this, the technology has the potential to save a person’s life.

When you look at it this way, it's easy to understand why this technology is so important and why it's being developed so quickly. There is virtually no person alive that it can't help. In so many cases, it might be the one thing that is capable of breaking down barriers where few other things have been able to succeed.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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