Even as western tech giants refine their artificial intelligence-powered translation capabilities, the Chinese are honing in on this area too.
Sogou Inc launched a portable translation device powered by artificial intelligence on 25 January 2018. The company is behind search engine Sogou, a well-known name in China’s internet industry.
The Sogou Travel Translator will be available for pre-ordering on March 12 and will start shipping to customers from March 19. It’s designed to cater to the translation needs of China’s rapidly growing outbound tourism market.
The language barrier is one of the main obstacles for Chinese outbound tourists, with challenges arising when they are planning trips, reading menus and street signs, and communicating with residents of foreign countries.
According to the China Tourism Academy’s Outbound Tourism Development 2016 and 2017 Annual Reports, more than 122 million Chinese tourists travelled to international destinations in 2016, a number that is expected to grow to 200 million by 2020.
Xiaochuan Wang, Chief Executive Officer of Sogou, said, “The Sogou Travel Translator is designed to accurately translate spoken words even if there is background noise. It can also translate text embedded in images, such as on menus and street signs, and functions both online and offline. A device such as ours is more convenient than a smartphone translation app that requires internet connectivity and uses expensive international data.”
Features offline translation and image recognition
The Sogou Travel Translator features a 3.1-inch high-resolution touch screen as well as a range of advanced functions designed to address typical tourist pain points.
It translates dialogue from 17 languages, including Chinese, English, German, Arabic and Russian, into the target language in real-time, enabling users to read or listen to the translation.
The offline translation mode also allows users to translate real-time dialogue between English and Chinese without being connected to the internet.
Sogou’s experience and expertise in natural language processing and machine translation ensure that the Sogou Travel Translator achieves a high degree of accuracy in its translation.
Sogou receives over 200 million voice requests per day, amounting to approximately 240,000 hours of data.
By applying source localisation and beamforming techniques to the output of microphone arrays, the Sogou Travel Translator can effectively suppress noise and interference to improve Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) in complicated far-field speech interactions.
Leveraging voice data and microphone arrays, the Sogou Travel Translator has achieved a voice recognition accuracy rate of 97%, directly leading to more accurate translation results.
Drawing on Sogou’s Optical Character Recognition technology, the Sogou Travel Translator accurately identifies and translates image-embedded texts in a range of scenarios so that the users can read street signs and menus.
Moreover, a live exchange rate function automatically detects the currency in the relevant country and converts prices into the designated currency.
Sogou Smart Translation Recorder and Translation Software
Sogou also introduced the Sogou Smart Translation Recorder and upgraded translation software as part of a suite of translation products.
The Sogou Smart Translation Recorder further supports the interpretation of both real-time and recorded conversations, allowing users to acquire information in classes, meetings, and other similar occasions, and simultaneously translates spoken content into the target languages.
Currently, only 10% of all information on the internet is available in the Chinese language.
Sogou’s search engine enables users to search and retrieve information in English using Chinese-language search terms, and thus broadens the scope of relevant information that users in China can access.
Sogou recently upgraded this function by adding Chinese translations of frequently searched authoritative international medical content, such as from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.
In addition, the Company added translations of Japanese and Korean websites to meet the needs of Sogou’s users.
The Sogou Input Method, which enables the real-time translation of text from Chinese to English, has similarly been upgraded to support the translation from Chinese to Korean and Japanese.