Posted by: crudbasher | March 12, 2012

Realtime Voice Translation Gets A Step Closer To Schools

(cc) hdur

This is one of several areas of technology I am watching that I think will be hugely disruptive to the education system.

This Microsoft project can take your voice, listen to what you say, then speak the same words in a different language in your own voice! That would be pretty creepy.

It’s not quite ready for primetime yet but neither were self driving cars 10 years ago. I see this technology being disruptive to education in two main ways.

1. Education becomes truly global

If the software you use to communicate online can do this translation, then a teacher can have students from around the world all interacting together. This will mean that teachers will have to be much more aware of cultural differences than they are today.

2. Education becomes truly global (part 2)

The most dramatic change though will be when you reverse the equation. We might see online classes with primarily US students being taught online by teachers who are overseas. This could reduce labor costs significantly. It’s the ultimate education outsourcing. Of course teachers in the US will protest about it and say the overseas people aren’t as good but would that be the case? Say you have a Math student in Korea who is working on his PhD. He might very well teach a small online class of Algebra students from the US just to earn some extra money. As long as his students are passing their standardized tests I think a lot of school administrators would go for it.

The main thing from stopping this from happening is that schools are flush with funding and aren’t looking for ways to save money. Oh wait…

I’m not sure how much this will happen but I do know that in a few years once this technology becomes practical it will be an option.

If you go to the link below, they have some audio recordings of the technology in action. Very cool stuff!

  • Realtime translation will be massively disruptive

    tags: technology realtime voice translation disruptive

    • 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.
    • The system needs around an hour of training to develop a model able to read out any text in a person’s own voice. That model is converted into one able to read out text in another language by comparing it with a stock text-to-speech model for the target language. Individual sounds used by the first model to build up words using a person’s voice in his or her own language are carefully tweaked to give the new text-to-speech model a full ability to sound out phrases in the second language.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


  1. […] It seems the trend right now is for more and more learning to happen online. This is called online education right now but it used to be called distance learning. This term is important because the distance is variable. As I have said before, once the teacher and student aren’t in the same room, it doesn’t matter how far away they are. The Internet provides the avenue for this to become a global enterprise. The remaining barriers to world wide education is a language barrier but that is going to dissolve pretty soon with realtime voice and text translation tools. […]

  2. […] written about how education will truly become global once you have realtime voice translation. (see Realtime Voice Translation Gets A Step Closer To Schools ) If knowledge is power, Africa could be a creative world […]

  3. […] learning with a physical location, it can happen anywhere and be hosted anywhere. Once you throw in realtime language translation, you will see classes offered from overseas because labor costs are much less than in the […]

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