TOKYO (AFP) — Japanese electronics giant NEC Corp. said Friday it has created a world-first real-time translator on a cellphone, which can instantly turn Japanese travellers' words into English.
One second after the phone hears speech in Japanese, the cellphone with the new technology shows the text on the screen. One second later, an English version appears.
NEC said it was the first time in the world that automatic translation is available on a cellphone without external help.
The company made it possible by making the software, which includes a voice-recognition system and translation functions, compact enough to operate on a small microchip mounted in a cellphone, it said.
The software, which can recognise some 50,000 Japanese words, is especially designed for smooth translation of travel phrases such as "Can I have a subway route map?".
It is technically possible to make the English translation vocal but NEC is not considering the idea at the moment, according to NEC spokesman Mitsumasa Fukumoto.
"We would need to study how to recognise voices on the phone precisely. Another problem would be how the person on the other side of the line could know if his or her words are being translated correctly," he said.
It was not decided when the technology would be put into practical use, he said, adding NEC would keep pushing with the study to "realise a society in which anybody can communicate with anyone else anywhere anytime."
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