A couple years ago, I became a member of a crowdsourcing outfit called Cambrian House just as it was getting started. The premise of the site is basically that you submit an idea for some sort of web-based service and then other members of the site vote on your idea. The best ideas get funded and then you can work on certain projects and gain a percentage of whatever profit the idea makes based on how much you put into it, and so on and so forth.
Well I remember one of the members of Cambrian House pitching this very idea — an instant messaging program that translated what you type on the fly, effectively breaking down language barriers the world over. Everyone went ape-shit and thought it was a great idea. I’m not sure if it got funded or not but it turns out the Google is now doing the exact same thing with Google Talk.
The feature works by adding a translation bot to your Google Talk conversation. So if I’m chatting with Pierre in France, I’d add the English to French bot and he’d add the French to English bot. I’d send messages to my bot and he’d send messages to his. Both of our bots would spit out whatever we were trying to say in the other person’s language. There are currently 24 bots available and you can build your own if you’re not satisfied with what’s there already.
Looks pretty cool so far. The big issue here will be how accurately the translations are handled. Apparently Ars Technica ran into some glitches when trying out the service but this thing just dropped and I’d expect it to improve over time.
Google Talkabout: Merry Christmas, God Jul and 圣诞快乐 [Google Talkabout] via Ars Technica