NTT DoCoMo expands its instant translation trials to 10 languages and 10,000 users

NTT DoCoMo's high-speed over-the-phone translation service has hit its second wider trial, aiming to test its skills with 10 languages and 10,000 subscribers -- up from 1,000 during its initial tests in 2011. DoCoMo has thrown in a few more details on how its real-time translator works. The feature is split into three steps: first, the carrier's servers recognize what you're saying, parses it into another language through its own cloud services and then converts the final translation into an audio message. The service currently functions with any Android device running version 2.2 or higher and a separate app will handle the interpretation for French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai. The Japanese carrier aims to launch a commercial version by March 2013 -- just in time for that vacation to see those falling cherry blossoms.

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DOCOMO to Conduct Second Trial of Cloud-based Translator Phone Service

- Expanded trial to cover 10 languages and 10,000 users -
Products & Services
TOKYO, JAPAN, May 14, 2012 --- NTT DOCOMO, INC. announced today its second trial of an experimental service for real-time interpretation between Japanese and other languages via mobile devices, which will take place from June 1 to September 30.

In the first trial involving some 1,000 DOCOMO subscribers between November 2011 and March 2012, about 70 percent of the participants reported that they would like to use the service again. In response, DOCOMO will launch this second trial for 10,000 users. Also, the trial will expand to 10 languages besides Japanese, as compared to English, Chinese and Korean in the first trial. Seven of the languages will be available for face-to-face communication between people talking in the presence of each other.

The translator phone service utilizes DOCOMO's "network cloud," which integrates the company's cloud and mobile network resources to handle the heavy processing required for rapid real-time interpretation. Interpretation generally is handled in three steps: machine recognition of spoken words, rendering into another language, and conversion into a voice readout that the other party hears. Thanks to the network cloud, interpretation will be processed at the same rapid speed even after the seven additional languages are introduced.

DOCOMO has enhanced its experimental service with two major upgrades in response to feedback from the first trial. First, the user interface now has a Repeat button, which enables the speaker to replay the last interpretation if the other party is unable to hear it. Second, a new start-up procedure enables users to launch the service faster.

DOCOMO expects to further enhance its translator phone service based on feedback from this second trial, aiming to launch a commercial service by March 2013.