Mobile carrier AT&T has started to trial a special kind of technology that allows one to actually send and receive text messages which undergo an automatic translation along the way. Right now, the two way translation would juggle between English and Spanish languages, where all someone needs to do is register a phone number alongside the preferred language. All messages that are sent to that number in a different language will be automatically translated, presumably on AT&T’s back-end, before it is relayed to the recipient’s handset. No idea on how much slower the text would arrive assuming the network runs at full capacity (for instance, New Year’s Eve), but it does look promising enough to make the world an even smaller place.
Mazin Gilbert, vice president for intelligent systems research at AT&T Labs in Florham Park, New Jersey, said, “If my friend sends me a message in Spanish, then AT&T recognizes the language and translates it to English. Then I can send back in English, and it is translated into Spanish for her. We can go back and forth and have a conversation — we’re trying to break down language barriers between people.”
What happens when you meet up with that particular person in real life and do not have the benefit of AT&T’s translation service? I guess at the end of the day, true friendship transcends language, although you can get a whole lot more accomplished if two were to be speaking along the same wavelength.
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