Do you remember how everyone on Star Trek could immediately communicate with new aliens? Casual viewers just dismissed it as lazy writing, but the hardcore fans knew otherwise — everyone on the show had a tiny “universal translator” implant that decoded foreign languages in realtime.
That always seemed fanciful to us, but now researchers at Carnegie Mellon are making it happen. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more:
Mr. Jou, a graduate student in language technologies at Carnegie Mellon University, was simply mouthing words in his native Mandarin Chinese. But 11 electrodes attached to his face and neck detected his muscle movements, enabling a computer program to figure out what he was trying to say and then translate his Mandarin into English.
The result boomed out of a loudspeaker a few seconds later:
“Let me introduce our new prototype,” a synthesized voice announced. “You can speak in Mandarin and it translates into English or Spanish.”
It’s not clear to us why he was photographed drinking bottled water. Maybe his device is advanced enough to translate “Perrier” from the French.
More from Szu-Chen Jou’s page at Carnegie Mellon…
Hat tip: WMMNA