NICT(National Institute of Information and Communication Technology)’s Master Project, which stands for “Multi-lingual Advanced Speech and Text reseARch Project” are running an experiment on multilingual (Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean) real-time translation system.
NICT has an English and other language pages to explain the whole experiment, which are and will be done in 5 different regions in Japan.
All of those tourist areas offer real time (1-2 seconds delay at most) machine translation in speech-to-speech, speech-to-text and text-to-speech services for foreign visitors for free.
At one of them, Yamanashi prefecture’s experiment with NEC and JTB Global Marketing & Travel Inc., not only offers “Handheld mobile type” and “regular PC set” but also provides “Scouter type” with which you can wear on your face and see the translated texts.
I am not sure how practical both voice recognition and Japanese-English machine translation, because even text-to-text machine translation gives me very bad results (for example). I want to try it if they come to Tokyo.
[Update 2010-02-08] Just one and a half days later, Google is reported to be developing speech-to-speech translation service on cellphones. So is this Japanese system years ahead? (I think both systems are and will be so limited, especially between distant languages like English-Japanese.)
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