UK-based Times Online is reporting that Google is developing a mobile phone service that will have the ability to translate speech, from one language to another, on the fly. Google’s hoping to build off of their text-to-text translation engine — which is currently capable of translating 52 languages — and voice search technologies. “We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years’ time,” said Google’s chief of translation services. Industry experts remain skeptical, however, about the proposed timetable, “The problem with speech recognition is the variability in accents. No system at the moment can handle that properly,” said David Crystal, professor of Linguistics at Bangor University. “Maybe Google will be able to get there faster than everyone else, but I think it’s unlikely we’ll have a speech device in the next few years that could handle high-speed Glaswegian slang.” It certainly is an aggressive goal, and one we are pretty excited about. We’ll stay on top of this story and report back as more becomes available.