A few months ago, we heard news of Google’s mysterious Babel project. At the time, rumors pointed to the service being a cross-platform chat solution. With the death of Google Talk and the release of the superior Google Hangouts service, many believed that Babel was dead, and had transformed into Hangouts. According to new reports, that is not the case, and Google is still working on Babel, which is slated to be a universal translator of sorts. Douglas Adam’s Babel fish anyone?
A report from the UK Times quotes Android VP Hugo Barra as claiming that the project is still in its infancy, and that some of the supported languages have been functioning with accurate results. Barra claims that the biggest hurdle to accurate language translation is background noise, with tests in controlled environments without background noise showing a success rate of close to 100%.
While Google does provide translation currently on the web and through mobile apps, the service lacks voice translation capabilities, providing only text translations. Babel will be the next step in translation technology, providing accurate real-time voice translation.
So it turns out the Babel name is connected to the sci-fi cult classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and not just some catchy name for a service. Check out the video below for a look at what Google is aiming for, although the final product probably won’t appear in fish form.