Amazon Alexa May Soon Morph Into A Real-Time Universal Translator
Alexa is a skilled digital assistant that is capable of a great many things. For example, Alexa can secure your wireless network with McAfee voice commands, send SMS messages through your Android phone, call for backup in Destiny 2, summon an Uber when you need a ride, and even order a pizza. All good stuff, though one potentially game-changing skill that is coming to Alexa is real-time language translation.
Citing "several sources familiar with the matter," Yahoo Finance reports that the engineering team responsible for Alexa is "seriously exploring" adding language translations and other capabilities that could benefit different languages and cultures. To a small degree, Alexa already does this—it's capable of translating basic words and phrases into Spanish, German, French, and Italian.
Amazon's bigger goal, however, is to teach Alexa to become a multilingual assistant. If successful, this sort of skill upgrade could potentially benefit users in various different situations. Imagine having a meeting in a board room with foreign investors, or attending someone's wedding in another country. Running with the latter example, one of the goals would be for Alexa to differentiate between asking "What do I say to the father of the bride in Japan?" and "What do I say to the master of ceremonies at a wedding in Japan?"
With Alexa going mobile, real-time translation would come in handy when visiting another country and trying to do something as seemingly simple as ordering food or asking for directions. In essence, accessible real-time translation would knock down the language barrier that exists in many situations.
The aforementioned sources say the ultimate goal is for this time happen on-the-fly. In addition, Amazon wants Alexa to be able to process and translate conversations that consist of multiple people all speaking in different languages, rather than just one language to another.
Amazon is not the first company with a digital assistant to see the benefit of real-time translation. However, it could be the first one to truly get it right on a mass scale.