Near Real-time Bablefish?




Douglas Adams' Babelfish - Illustration by Rod LordReaders of the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams may recognize the picture at the right as the “Babel Fish” – for others, an explanation is in order.

The Babel Fish is “small, yellow, leech-like, and is a universal translator which simultaneously translates from one spoken language to another. When inserted into the ear, its nutrition processes convert sound waves into brain waves, neatly crossing the language divide between any species you should happen to meet whilst travelling in space.”

Put simply, insert the Babel fish into your ear, and you can both speak and understand any language.

No Universal Language in a “Flat World” (yet)

The World is Flat (cover) - Thomas L. FriedmanAs the World Gets Flat (or small, as I prefer to think of it, no offense to Thomas Friedman), the lines between countries begin to blur, as technology makes it easier than ever to ship work to the lest expensive locations for any given task.

However, whatever barriers low-cost telecommunications and a rising variety of skilled workforce around the world, language remains a barrier to companies wishing to actually DO business globally (witness some of the horror stories of “call centers gone bad” in the rush to outsourcing and offshoring), as well as to the individual global traveller who, as it turns out, may not speak multiple languages.

Just announced this week for the iPhone as well as Blackberry is a set of new apps from Sakhr Software USA, which provides “Speech to Speech” mobile translation, enabling live communication between English and Arabic speakers. This newest offering combines Sakhr’s Arabic text-to-speech (TTS), speech recognition, and translation technology in a mobile environment.

While the average iPhone or Blackberry user may not have access to this solution yet, nor be able to afford it (price unknown, but largely, this is targeted at the intelligence, defense and political/diplomatic worlds), the fact that the technologies and techniques necessary to accomplish this task have come this close to being able to put near real-time translation in your ear (bud), is quite incredible.

It’s not quite the “real-time” translation as described by the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but we’re getting ever closer.

Going Digital, and Going Mobile are two powerful forces in the world these days. Are you doing everything that you can to take advantage of these trends?

Is Your Information Architected for a Flat World?

Two recommended actions to take to be prepared to outrun your competition in a Flat World:

Whether your organization is large or small, local or global, now is the time to take advantage of the possibilities available in moving work around the world, delivering content in any conceivable format, collaborating globally, and at the lowest costs and smallest form factors ever seen.

How are YOU taking advantage of the Flat World? Let’s discuss.

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