Network World- Mark Gibbs posted his story

SpeechTrans Wristband Watch : A small step towards the Babel Fish

SpeechTrans’ Bluetooth Wristband Watch is almost exactly not like having a Babel Fish stuck in your ear.

In Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” there’s a way to understand anything that is said to you in any language; all you have to do is stick a fish in your ear …

The Babel Fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting, telepathically, a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain. The practical upshot of which is, that if you stick one in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech you hear decodes the brainwave matrix. … the poor Babel Fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different cultures and races, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.

Alas, as you may have noticed, such a thing as the Babel Fish doesn’t exist (at least, out here on the western spiral arm of the Milky Way, it doesn’t) and so many of us have to struggle when we go abroad …

As for myself, outside of English, I have minimal language skills. My French is “très mauvais” and my Latin is as good as “non esse.” Thus, when I travel I’m at the mercy of my hosts, the kindness of the locals, or the clumsiness of a phrase book to just buy a coffee (though speaking loudly, in English, and savagely pointing does occasionally work). But there is hope, for I have seen the future and it looks like a bracelet …

speechtrans bracelet

The bracelet, the SpeechTrans Bluetooth Wristband Watch, is from SpeechTrans, a company that specializes, as you might have guessed, in speech translation.

SpeechTrans offers a broad range of speech translation systems for both consumers and businesses that are really impressive, covering, as they do, 44 different languages that can be translated in real time.

The Wristband extends these services and is a cool idea. It acts as a remote speaker and microphone as well as being capable of answering calls and displaying the time. What’s really cool is when it is the input and output device for the SpeechTrans products (available for Windows, iOS, and Android).

Now, imagine you’re out and about in, say, Paris, and you crave something doughnut-like, so you walk in a patisserie to purchase a croissant and realize you have no idea what the French is for “Shopkeeper. I’d like a croissant to go, please.”Take this mobile device management course from PluralSight and learn how to secure devices in your company without degrading the user experience. ]

With the SpeechTrans app, which uses Nuance’s Dragon software to translate the language being spoken loaded on your smartphone, you speak your statement in English and voila! Out of the bracelet, spoken in French, comes “Commerçant. Je voudrais un croissant à aller, s’il vous plaît.” C’est magnifique!

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The bracelet acts as a remote speaker and microphone for your smartphone and, as a bonus, displays the time. In practice, the speaker volume is rather low for anywhere where there is much ambient noise, the sound quality is just OK, and, most crucially, the wait for the translation can be a little too long (during which, the shopkeeper, not knowing what you’re doing talking to a bracelet and then motioning her to listen to it, will probably mutter something like “Cet homme est un idiot, je ferais mieux de l’humour lui“.

The bracelet is easy enough to pair with a smartphone, although setting the time is a clumsy process. You can upload your contact list to the bracelet so the caller’s name is displayed when a call is received and, should you step away from your phone, the bracelet will vibrate as soon as you get out of range. You can also connect a headphone and microphone set via the mini jack on the side, so your calls can be private and the bracelet provides about three hours of talk time (not enough for a full day of use) with 60 hours of standby time.

I love the idea of a wristwatch-style device to perform translations, but at $100 and given the translation delay (which you can see in the video below), the limited battery life, and weak sound quality, it’s very much a geek toy. It’s also not particularly good looking and you’d have to be a really committed geek to wear the style I received for review — it’s the one on the right in the picture above with a black center with pearlescent white sides. I’ll give the SpeechTrans Bluetooth Wristband Watch a Gearhead rating of 3 out of 5.

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Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has waded through the swamps of the computer industry

Fast Company- Tina Amirtha posted her story

Talk To The Smartwatch, Cause The Phone Ain’t Listening

Answer calls and translate speech with this smartwatch from SpeechTrans.



This story contains interviews with Yan Auerbach, COO of SpeechTrans; and Joe D’Alonzo, resident physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

It seems odd that a speech translation company would build a smartwatch that mainly lets you answer your phone hands-free. But this wearable device, the Bluetooth Wristwatch Band, can also sync up with the company’s smartphone and tablet translation app via its recently released proprietary API, making it half phone, half foreign communicator.

The wristband, which launched with little fanfare in March, also tells the time, lets you listen to music and access the contacts from your phone or tablet. It even alerts you when you’ve stepped too far away from your phone, a reminder not to forget it. But it’s the translation app that draws users to this wearable device.

The Bluetooth Wristwatch Band uses SpeechTrans’s new API to make its translation and dictation tech work. But it’s not the only device that uses the API. Large customers, like HP and Cisco, are currently using the SpeechTrans API to improve the way they do business internationally as well as provide apps for their consumer devices. But the wristband brings the API’s speech capabilities to everyday consumers in a unique way.

The app translates to and from 44 different languages using speech recognition for voice and chat. It’s also a tool to simply dictate and record your speech. SpeechTrans’s API links the app’s capabilities to the wristband. At the moment, however, the wristband’s other features trump its translation capabilities.ADVERTISING

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Professionals that are constantly on their feet, like doctors, have been using SpeechTrans’s translation app on their mobile devices when they need to translate urgent information to and from the people they are serving. But these users mainly use the wristband as a hands-free Bluetooth device for calls and stick to the mobile app for translation.

“The translation isn’t perfect yet, and it takes patient cooperation. But it has saved me from forgetting my phone,” says Joe D’Alonzo, a resident at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. He usually tells patients to speak slowly and directly into the microphone when he does use the translation feature.

D’Alonzo only just started using the wristband, but the stand-alone mobile translation app has helped him before. During D’Alonzo’s medical training, he had a patient who needed an emergency C-section. The problem was, she only spoke French, and D’Alonzo only spoke Spanish. He used the app to explain that she would be prepped for surgery because her baby’s heart rate was crashing.

The wristband-plus-app somewhat resembles a real-time translator on your wrist. Essentially, the wristband hardware acts as a hands-free microphone and speaker for your cell phone or tablet. If the translation app is installed on the secondary device, and you connect the wristband to it, the app transcribes what you say onto the smartphone’s or tablet’s screen.

At that point, you need to touch a button on the smartphone’s screen to validate the text. Then, a computerized voice reads out the translated text in the second language. The translating function isn’t completely hands-free if you use the wristband, naturally pushing users back to just using the smartphone app.

In some ways, however, the wristband does win over a smartphone. The microphone is omni-directional, so it will pick up anyone who is talking nearby. If you were just translating with your smartphone, you would have to position the phone in front of your conversation partner.

“One of the situations that we’ve found ourselves in is when we’re over in a different country where we’re trying to speak to a complete stranger, who doesn’t understand us at all, holding a phone up to their face is a little obscure and, at some point, somewhat offensive,” says Yan Auerbach, SpeechTrans’s cofounder and COO.

So it’s no wonder that SpeechTrans is spanning the wearable tech space. The company aims to enable speech recognition-enabled translation across any device, conforming to any situation. And SpeechTrans’s new API provides the basis for integrating its translation technology into even more devices.

“We try to make technology integrate into people’s daily lives as seamlessly as possible, rather than obstruct their communications,” says Auerbach. This smartwatch is moving in a direction that could make machine translation less awkward than holding a cell phone up to someone’s face.

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MakeUseOf- Ryan Dube posted his story


Imagine a world where the barriers between the deaf and the hearing are gone. A world where conversations flow fluidly among those who hear sound, and those who don’t. Could that world become real in the near future?

Back in June, a group of marketing students at Berghs School of Communication developed a concept video for a fictional product called Google Gesture. The product included a wearable wrist band and a mobile app that used electromyography to read the muscle movements of a deaf person doing sign language. The system then passed those signals to the app, which translated those signals into a digitized voice and would speak for the person.

Watching the fake marketing video was pretty exciting. So exciting, in fact, that major tech sites like Mashable, Slashgear and others originally announced the product as real, and then later had to recount the claim and apologize for their mistake.  It was an odd error, considering that there really is a Google product called Google Gesture Search [No Longer Available], which lets you draw gestures onto your mobile screen to search contacts, bookmarks and more.

Regardless, the Berghs students’ concept presented a remarkable idea, leading to the question – could it be possible to create such an app for real?

Is Translating Sign Language Possible?

Dissecting the marketing concept on a technical level reveals that the technology using electromyography (EMG) to “sense” sign language isn’t really that far fetched at all. As far back as 2009, researchers from the University of Washington were able to utilize multiple EMG sensors to decode muscle movements and convert them into actual arm and hand gestures.

The researchers actually built a complete “gesture recognition library”, identifying which muscle signals represented which gesture. The research proves that this kind of technology is available and ready to implement in the sort of application the Berghs students envisioned.

So has anyone actually accomplished this yet? If not, why isn’t anyone doing so, and providing the deaf and hearing impaired with the ability to communicate with anyone in the world through sign language?

The Future of Real-Time Translation Technology

The truth is that someone is in fact working on such real-time sign language translation technology.


There is a company called SpeechTrans, that has been pushing the limits of translation technologies in recent years. SpeechTrans works with technology partners to produce some of the most remarkable real-time language translation services on the market today. These are services that translate text chat to text chat, voice to text, and even real-time voice-to-voice language translation through mobile phone and desktop applications.3 Best Translation Tools Based on Google Translate3 Best Translation Tools Based on Google TranslateREAD MORE

To explore whether a sign-language technology could become a reality in the near future, MakeUseOf sat down with SpeechTrans CEO John Frei and COO Yan Auerbach to discuss this groundbreaking new translation technology and just how far out into the future it might be.

Developing a Sign Language Translation App

MUO: Is it possible to do the sort of sign language to speech translation that the Berghs students portrayed in this Google Gesture concept video?

John Frei - SpeechTrans CEO

John: I would say that the technology is available to develop that. We’re currently working with Microsoft and Intel  in exploring some of the technologies they’re coming out with, in terms of hardware and software. We envision the ability to use that technology to recognize sign language and then convert that into speech and audio output.

MUO: You’re actively working on developing that technology right now?

Yan: So, there was a customer that was using our software, and thought it would be wonderful if we could modify it so that people who are hearing-impaired can use it to make telephone calls from our app, to communicate without the need of sign language when they’re in person, or without the need of a TTY type service for telephone calls. We developed that product, and with funding from Microsoft and Intel, we launched SpeechTrans for the hearing impaired on Windows 8.1, which removes the need for sign language.

MUO: How does the “in-person” app work?

Yan: There’s a listen mode, and there’s an input mode. So, when someone is speaking to you, you put on listen mode and it types out anything that they’re saying on the screen in text. Then, when you respond back, you type it out and then it speaks out loud what you type. With the telephone, you just dial any person’s phone number, and when they answer the phone, it becomes like an instant message.  Whatever they speak, you get as an IM. Then, whatever you type is spoken out loud through the telephone. That’s the first phase.

Near Future Sign Language Translation

MUO:  What technologies can people expect to see in the near future? What’s the next phase?

John: We do envision – for someone who only has the ability to use sign language – to be able to do that in front of a device such as a phone, PC or laptop. Intel has a new camera system, and Microsoft does as well with the Kinect, that does gesture recognition.

MUO: How is this better than the arm band concept put forth by the Berghs students?


Yan: Basically, ours is going to work in a way where it doesn’t require you to put anything on your arm. It’ll recognize 64 points on your hand . We’re using the beta version of Intel’s RealSense camera. So not only will we be able to recognize all of the sign language, and multiple different dialects of sign language, but we’ll also be able to recognize emotions, facial expressions, and other small nuances and then convert that into spoken words as well.

That won’t require you to wear any gloves or anything.  We are focusing on that market specifically because we just like to help people in general. We don’t only want to help people who want to speak in many different languages, but we also want to help people who can’t speak in any language. The technology exists, and there’s no reason their quality of life should be any different than ours.

John:  It’s a feasible concept. It’s just a different input and output. Some of the conversations that we’ve had with Microsoft about some of the future technologies is where someone could actually implant a microchip in their neck, and it directly reads their brainwave patterns. So if you’re helping people who can’t communicate, we would actually see something like that as a phase three deployment.

Last year, there was a group of students that came out with a working prototype of a glove that was plugged into a computer. The gestures that you made with the glove would then be recognized and converted to sign language. So they already have the capability with the current technology.

Our vision is that we don’t really want to create the accessories like the arm bands that you have to put on. It should just be natural and free flowing for them [people doing sign language] to do it in front of their video camera. 90% of what people say in communication is actually in their body language. Being able to access facial recognition, gestures and emotions, we’ll be able to use that data as well to make sure that the translation and what they’re trying to convey is expressed in the right form.

MUO: Is Intel within the 5 year range of having that sign language recognition technology?

John: Intel definitely has a lot of resources available. Their technology and their software is coming along at a pace where we can make this happen fairly quickly.

MUO: Do you have a time frame for when you’re hoping to get this technology into the market?

John: For the sign language, it’s about 12 to 18 months.

MUO: Does anyone else out there have anything else like this for sign language translation?

John: I saw a YouTube video of IBM doing a prototype where someone was doing sign language, but it was a proof of concept and it only had like three or four words that it recognized. We have over five hundred thousand words that we’re planning to roll it out with, so it’s going to take it to a whole other level.


While the vision that the students at Berghs dreamed up might not become the sign language translation app of the future, that doesn’t mean that such a concept won’t happen. What the work done at SpeechTran(s), Intel and Microsoft proves is that sign language translation is almost certain to become a real technology within just a few years. It most likely won’t involve cumbersome arm bands, but instead nothing more than a special video camera, and a mobile app.

Through the magic of gesture and facial recognition, this sign language translation app of the future promises to completely revolutionize interpersonal communications for hundreds of thousands of hearing impaired or hard of hearing individuals all around the world.5 Best Resources for Mac & Apple Device Users with Disabilities

Lifehacker Australia- Robert Sorokanich included SpeechTrans Android in the apps we love section

Our Favourite Android, iOS, And Windows Phone Apps Of The Week

Robert SorokanichSep 1, 2014, 3:00pm⋅ Filed to: 


Our Favourite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

It’s the start of Spring today Down Under! What other reason do you need to spring clean your apps and download some shiny new ones?

Multi-Platform Updates


Our Favourite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

Why just be a casual sports fan when you could have ALL OF THE SPORTS coming to your phone in a customised feed? SportsManias’ free app lets you cultivate a customised list of teams, players, and sports writers across all the major pro sports, bringing you real-time news, scores, stats, and updates as fast as technologically possible. It’s like plugging into the matrix. [Android] [iOS]



Our Favourite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

There are plenty of translation apps out there, but SpeechTrans has something particularly neat in-app purchase: Interprephone, where the app performs real-time translation on your phone calls. The app also translates via typed input, microphone, or photograph, and has a bunch of handy features to help you keep track of currency, flights, and more while you travel. [Free]

Windows Phone


Our Favourite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

NFL’s official companion app brings all the interviews, breaking news, and behind-the-scenes access you ever wanted right to your smartphone. Plus, with a paid subscription, you’ll even get real-time highlight video and unlimited access to the NFL’s deep video archive. [Free]

InformationWeek – Shave O’Neill posted a story on wearables at work on 10.21:


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Shane O’Neill
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Wearables At Work: 7 Productivity Apps

Wearables are great, but what good would Google Glass or the Galaxy Gear be without useful apps? Here’s a sampling of the latest business apps for wearables.


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Today’s focus on wearable devices and their companion apps usually skates over the consumer (Apple Watch notwithstanding) and zeros in on the enterprise. After all, smartwatches and “smartglasses” offer specific solutions to the specific tasks of mobile workers such as field technicians, doctors, retail salespeople, and construction workers.

According to research firms, wearables in the workplace are clearly time savers, but the effect is broader than that, as they will create serious productivity and profit gains over the next few years.

Gartner forecasts that the use of Google Glass and other smartglasses will help add more than $1 billion per year to company profits by 2017. Forrester recently surveyed 2,000 technology decision makers about the importance of having a wearables strategy in place over the next 12 months, and more than half of respondents reported that wearables were a priority, with 32% saying they’re a “critical” or “high” priority.

Yet the technological and human behavior shifts brought on by wearables in the workplace come with hard truths for CIOs about bandwidth needs, battery life, security and privacy concerns, and integration with enterprise systems. IT leaders must weigh these challenges against how well wearables streamline the employee and customer experience.

This past summer, opened up roads for app developers when it rolled out Salesforce Wear, an app development platform containing reference apps, demos, open-source code, and other documentation that can be used to develop apps for 11 wearable device types, including Google Glass, the Pebble smartwatch, and the Myo motion-detecting armband from Thalmic Labs, and connect the apps to the company’s Salesforce1 mobile app platform. Wearables, business apps, and Internet of Things technologies were all big trends at the company’s Dreamforce 2014 show last week in San Francisco.

Salesforce has been understandably bullish on wearable apps for business (it has serious skin in the game), but there’s enough activity from ISVs and individual developers and support from the research community to justify preparing for wearables in your workplace now.

Here’s a sample of standout wearable apps for retail, manufacturing, the service industry, and the general knowledge worker. This is sure to be just the first wave of many wearable business apps to come.

SpeechTransThe SpeechTrans translation and dictation app is a useful tool for the international traveler. Tap a recording button and speak in one language, and SpeechTrans translates what you say into any language you choose. SpeechTrans has recently been configured to work on wearable devices running Android and Android Wear. It runs natively on the Epson Moverio BT-200 smartglasses, and it works on Google Glass via the HP My Room web conferencing app. SpeechTrans also has its own Bluetooth wristband that tethers to your Android or iOS device. In addition to speech translation and dictation, SpeechTrans includes document translation, a currency converter, and long-distance calls with translation.

The SpeechTrans translation and dictation app is a useful tool for the international traveler. Tap a recording button and speak in one language, and SpeechTrans translates what you say into any language you choose. SpeechTrans has recently been configured to work on wearable devices running Android and Android Wear. It runs natively on the Epson Moverio BT-200 smartglasses, and it works on Google Glass via the HP My Room web conferencing app. SpeechTrans also has its own Bluetooth wristband that tethers to your Android or iOS device. In addition to speech translation and dictation, SpeechTrans includes document translation, a currency converter, and long-distance calls with translation.