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Microsoft develops software that lets you speak Mandarin in your own voice

If you’ve ever read The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, you no doubt remember the Bable fish. Well, Microsoft has posted a video that shows the next best thing: translating your spoken English word into Mandarin, and possibly other languages in the future, in your own voice.

Stephan Lourens
Born 20 years too early. Curses sometimes. Thinks too much. Believes plug-and-play is the best invention ever. If asked what he wants for his birthday he will... More

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Rick Rashid, head of Microsoft Research, explains how the technology works in a video posted today. It’s quite mind-boggling, and is worth watching the entire 10 minutes:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu-nlQqFCKg&w=650&h=488]

The result and response was impressive to say the least. “Just over two years ago, researchers at Microsoft Research and the University of Toronto made another breakthrough,” Rashid said. “By using a technique called deep neural networks, which is patterned after human brain behaviour, researchers were able to train more discriminative and better speech recognizers than previous methods.”

The possibilities for the future are endless. As Rashid said in the video, they hope to “break down the language barriers between people. Personally I believe this is going to lead to a better world.”

What is more impressive is that these two languages are grammatically at completely different ends of the scale. Various translating programs and apps have been available for years now, but always in an “after-the-fact” kind of way with a Benni Benassi-like voice that did not always satisfy.

Being able to translate and then speak in your own voice changes everything.