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Smart Devices

Alexa gets Live Translation to translate real-time convos on Echo devices

By Prakhar Khanna December 15, 2020, 1:15 am
Alexa translation

Amazon is introducing a new feature for Alexa-enabled Echo devices. It is rolling out Live Translation feature, which allows individuals speaking in two different languages to converse with each other. Here, the Alexa-enabled Echo devices will act as an interpreter and will translate both sides of the conversation.

The latest development comes from Amazon’s blog, which announced the rollout of the Live Translation feature for Alexa in the US. Yes, the feature is currently limited to the US. As of now, it works with six language pairs — English and Spanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, or Hindi. It only works on Echo devices with locale set to English US.

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To start, you need to ask Alexa to serve as an interpreter for the language that the person you want to talk to speaks. Now, as the two of you converse, Alexa will keep translating by automatically identifying the person who’s talking. If you own an Echo device with a screen, you’ll also be able to see a visual translation in addition to hearing the audio. If you want to end the conversation, you’ll need to say, “Alexa, stop“.

Naturally, the feature would be more helpful if it were brought to the Alexa mobile app since travelers are (at times) in dire need of live translation during their visit to foreign lands. But for now, it is limited to Alexa-enabled Echo devices. It will be particularly useful for shop owners who need to interact with foreign travelers on a daily basis.

For the unaware, this is not the first time a company is introducing the live translation feature. It has existed on Google Assistant-enabled smart devices for over a year now. The company introduced interpreter mode for its Assistant at the start of 2019, and it was brought to Android and iOS by the end of the year.

Amazon says it is working on adapting the neural-machine-translation engine to conversational-speech data and generating translations that incorporate relevant context, such as tone of voice or formal versus informal translations. 

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