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docomo to start mobile phone translation service

Date Posted: 2011-11-10

Technology is taking a giant leap forward as NTT docomo introduces an automatic two-way speech translation service for its cellular telephones.

The new service translates between Japanese and English, and between Korean and English, using an artificial voice accompanying text. NTT says the new service’s translation accuracy will be about 90% in Japanese and 80% in Korean. It’s the first automated translation service in the world for simple conversations taking place on a cell phone.

The new service will first be offered to companies and organizaqtions involved with tourism and education. An additional 400 individuals will be selected for the trial period. Once the service is in place, it will be introduced to the general consumer public in late November. Using the service is simple, as callers place the call through a designated number and then voice-prompted to provide the additional information, including the other party’s phone number. If using an NTT docomo smartphone, users will see both the original and translated sentences on the phone’s screen.

The service is now free, although NTT docomo says it ultimately will charge a fee for the service. Applications for trial users are being accepted by the company through November 20th.

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