updated 03:25 pm EDT, Mon March 12, 2012
Uses simile of person's voice to convert words
Microsoft researchers have developed an app that converts an individual's words into another language with a personal touch. Instead of vocalizing the translation with an artificial-sounding computer generated voice, the software speaks in what sounds like that person's own intonation. The app supports 26 different languages including English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Italian.
To use the software, users must first create a sound library from their own voices. The process takes about an hour. The system can then read any text and translate it to speech in the second language. It then sounds out the words using the speaker's voice.
"The word is just one part of what a person is saying," explains Shrikanth Narayanan, a professor at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. Also important are the expression a person is trying to convey, and how they're saying it.
The software was developed at Microsoft's labs in Beijing. The facility is the company's second largest research center.[via MIT Technology Review]