Is There Much Of A Market For A Universal Translator?


The title is taken from the headline of a Michael Arrington post on TechCrunch in response to the Rick Rashid demo video on this site last week. He makes a fair point that it we may not use it for talking to our friends but I can definitely think of some other scenarios for its use – and Michael touches on those. But I can also think of an immediate use with someone even closer than my friends – my family.

You see my mother in law is Chinese. I’ve known her for twenty years but never had much of a conversation with her – it’s not a son in law/mother in law thing, it’s just that I don’t speak any Cantonese and she speaks a tiny amount of English. It’s a shame and yes, I probably should make the effort to learn some Cantonese but in the absence of that, the demo from Microsoft Research had real implications for me. Now I know that the demo was in Mandarin and to make the scenario work it would need to do the translation in both directions but the potential is right there.

Could I be having a Skype call in the future with my mother in law in our native tongues? I hope so.