Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Stick this fish in your ear, and wear these glasses

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 5:

Ford, with a lightning movement, clapped his hand to Arthur's ear, and he had the sudden sickening sensation of the fish slithering deep into his aural tract. Gasping with horror he scrabbled at his ear for a second or so, but then slowly turned goggle-eyed with wonder. He was experiencing the aural equivalent of looking at a picture of two black silhouetted faces and suddenly seeing it as a picture of a white candlestick. Or of looking at a lot of coloured dots on a piece of paper which suddenly resolve themselves into the figure six and mean that your optician is going to charge you a lot of money for a new pair of glasses.

He was still listening to the howling gargles, he knew that, only now it had taken on the semblance of perfectly straightforward English.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review, on Carnegie Mellon University's new translation hardware:

CMU computer science graduate student Stan Jou, 34, of Shadyside, stood before the audience yesterday morning with 11 tiny electrodes affixed to the muscles of his cheeks, neck and throat.

The Taiwan native then mouthed -- without speaking aloud -- the following phrase in Mandarin Chinese: "Let me introduce our new prototype."

The sensors captured electrical signals from Jou's facial muscles when they moved to form the silent Chinese words. In a matter of seconds, this information traveled to a computer that recognized the words and translated them into English and Spanish. The phrase was then displayed on a screen and spoken by the computer in both languages.

Never quite got the hang of conjugating French verbs? Always wanted to visit Poland, but were afraid you won't be able to prattle with the Poles?

"In the future, we could implant the electrodes into your mouth and throat if you want and have your mouth become multilingual," Waibel said.

While certainly the most revolutionary, this device wasn't the only new communications tool showcased yesterday.

Waibel exhibited "translation goggles" that displayed his words on a miniature virtual screen, seen only by the wearer of these souped-up eyeglasses. His speech was translated from spoken English into Spanish text, almost like having automatic movie subtitles for the real world.

(found via Engadget)

No comments: