Again my geekdom is rewarded. As a life long Star Trek fan, I always look at how much ST has changed the way we think about so many things, from culture to technology. And here it is again! Not only can we say,"Computer?" like Scotty in Star Trek 4 and it actually answers, i.e. siri in iPhone 4s, but now the Universal Translator is on it's way to becoming a reality as well. Next thing you know we'll be ordering our meals from the moons of Antaries in Klingon.
Researchers at Microsoft have made software that can learn the sound of your voice, and then use it to speak a language that you don't. The system could be used to make language tutoring software more personal, or to make tools for travelers.
In a demonstration at Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, campus on Tuesday, Microsoft research scientist Frank Soong showed how his software could read out text in Spanish using the voice of his boss, Rick Rashid, who leads Microsoft's research efforts. In a second demonstration, Soong used his software to grant Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, the ability to speak Mandarin.
In English, a synthetic version of Mundie's voice welcomed the audience to an open day held by Microsoft Research, concluding, "With the help of this system, now I can speak Mandarin." The phrase was repeated in Mandarin Chinese, in what was still recognizably Mundie's voice.
…."For a monolingual speaker traveling in a foreign country, we'll do speech recognition followed by translation, followed by the final text to speech output [in] a different language, but still in his own voice," said Soong.