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The amazing race to a universal translator

The amazing race to a universal translator - medical translation
Ever since the days of Star Trek, the idea of a universal translator has captivated popular culture. During the original TV show, the "UT" provided real-time translation of spoken languages by scanning brain-wave frequencies. In addition, the computers of the U.S.S. Enterprise had translation capabilities built into its system software. Fun stuff but until recently UTs were the domain of trekkies and kids' play.

No longer. In 2012, Microsoft announced significant progress towards a universal translator. Not only did they announce it, they demonstrated it:

One of the standouts phrases from Microsoft Chief Research Officer Rick Rashid's presentation: "We hope, within a few years, to break down the language barriers between people".

This sentiment was echoed by surgeon and technologist Steven Schwaitzberg when he presented a TED talk "A universal translator for surgeons". Here is the video:

It is amazing to watch these presentations and recognize the amazing progress that has been made. And it's fascinating to note that these advances are being pushed not by translation companies but by technology companies - Microsoft and IBM in these particular examples but Google is also hard at work on this.

So what do you think? Is the universal translator just around the corner?

[Hat tip to Lucia Kash!]

ForeignExchange Translations' expert human translators provide specialized medical translation services to pharmaceutical and medical device companies.


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