A new startup called Lingtastic is coming out of stealth today that wants to lower the cost of professional translation services. Using a distributed team of freelance translators around the world, customers will be able to call in, and the translator with the lowest bid will take the call. Instead of $100 an hour or more, CEO Chas Watkins expects the hourly rate to be as low as $18. (Lingtastic will take 20 percent as its cut).
The service launched in closed beta today for Spanish-English translations. Other languages will be available when the site launches publicly in March. If you want to try it out, send an e-mail to TC [at] Lingtastic [dot] com saying why you want to use the service. TC readers will get preference in being accepted to the beta.
Lingtastic will provide both live interpreters and translate text messages from one language to another. Watkins imagines many scenarios for his services. Any hotel or car rental agency across the world can have a live interpreter by simply calling. Sales people trying to reach potential customers in foreign countries could use the service. Or simply someone trying to flirt with someone they meet on a social network who lives in another country. Text translations can be sent via e-mail, SMS, or posted to Websites. There is a developer API as well. Here is how Watkins describes the service:
In the live release next month a customer with an account will be able to request a live interpreter from our website and they will receive a call from that person in seconds. They can specify language, specialty, max price and skill level and the interpreters compete for their business. That call can come on a normal phone, cell phone, skype, Yahoo, Google talk, or MSN. We can even conference in a third party on any of those applications too!
The most important aspect of our service though is the interface we have built to this system. That allows developers to quickly add our service (or resell it) from their own software or social site. This will allow people to quickly develop applications that can translate text, or have live interpreters call them to chat with friends from within any website or service.
Watch this slide show for more info.