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New Microsoft software can translate voices into foreign languages

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 7:50PM EST

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Researchers at Microsoft have created software that can translate a user’s voice into a foreign languages, a solution with the potential to revolutionize communications, MIT’s Technology Review reported on Monday. “We will be able to do quite a few scenario applications,” said Microsoft researcher Frank Soong. “For a monolingual speaker traveling in a foreign country, we’ll do speech recognition followed by translation, followed by the final text to speech output [in] a different language, but still in his own voice.” Read on for more.

Along with removing the language barrier for travelers, the software could be used to help students learn a new language. Having the ability to hear one’s own voice could potentially make it a easier to imitate a new dialect. The technology could also be used to improve navigation devices, allowing a digital English voice to read text written in different languages.

The software currently has the ability to convert between 26 different languages — including Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Italian — and it takes roughly an hour of training to develop a model that is capable of reading text in a user’s voice. The model is then converted, with the help of text-to-speech software, into one that can read text in another language. Sounds from the first model are then carefully tweaked to give the new text-to-speech model the full ability to sound out phrases in a new language.


Dan joins the BGR team as the Android Editor, covering all things relating to Google’s premiere operating system. His work has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn’t testing the latest devices or apps, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.