Google: Augmented Reality & Real-Time Translation

Machine Translation

New tech in machine translation

In January, Google released new features to its translate app.

Available on both iOS and Android platforms, the app can make on-the-spot translations using its Word Lens tool and text translations by inputting words or sentences manually. But this year, the app was updated with voice translation functions in 36 languages. Users can tap the mic button in the app and begin talking. It recognises multiple users and the language being spoken. Once the languages have been recognised, the app is ready is translate without the need to tap the mic button again. Impressive!

Word Lens

Word Lens tool from Google

Word Lens tool from Google

The Word Lens tool in the Google Translate app allowed user to take a photo of a piece of text, a road sign etc. and translate it accordingly. Now, all the user has to do it point the phone’s camera towards the object and see the translated text overlaid on their screen. This is referred to as augmented reality and Google acquired the technology in May last year when they bought the California-based tech firm, “Quest Visual“.

Prior to the augmented reality tech, the app required a data connection to fulfill a request to translate. But now, that’s not an issue. Word Lens can also translate from English to and from German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Russian.

Closer to the Future

These futuristic features take us closer to turning our phones into something like the universal translators out of a Star Trek movie. Closer to a new age where language is no longer a social barrier for communicating new ideas, and to one another.

Often the hardest part of travelling is navigating the local language“, states Google Translate’s product lead Barak Turovsky. “Now Google Translate can be your guide in new ways…

Are you using it? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

The STAR Team

How Big is a Global Company?

Big Companies

How big is a big company?

There are many interesting facts we come across in our business dealings with global companies.

An interesting question is what exactly does it mean to be a global company? STAR Translation has 44 offices on 5 continents and employs some 900 people. Are we a big company?

For fun, we had a look at one of the largest brands in the world, that is, “McDonald’s”. McDonald’s has an astonishing 36,302 stores in 119 countries. That’s truly global! In fact, it’s hard to find a country without one: McDonald’s-less nations!

The company employs some 1,924,035 people. Imagine trying to manage that! Taking into consideration that each country has its own laws, cultures etc. It’s certainly amazing how they keep their brand consistent throughout the world. If you go to a McDonald’s in France, the experience is virtually the same as a McDonald’s branch in the USA. Their management systems are commendable.

They serve some 60 million customers every day.

Aside from McDonald’s, who else has the largest number of employees in the world?

According to Wikipedia, the largest employer in the world is the US Department of Defence, or “defense”, as an American would spell it, with approximately 3.2 million members of staff. If we just look at commercial companies however, Walmart wins hands down with 2.2 million employees. It’s interesting that Walmart is similar in size to the US Army.

And outside the US, the two largest employers in the UK are Tesco (597,784) and the private security company, G4S with 620,000.

How does your business stack up?

Some interesting facts:

  • Fun McDonald’s facts
  • McDonald’s sells more than 75 hamburgers every second
  • If you’re a production manager consider this: “Americans alone consume one billion pounds of beef at McDonald’s in a year — five and a half million head of cattle.”

Source: Business Insider
The STAR Team

Duolingo — Free App Brings Classrooms Online

Language Learning

App brings online learning to classrooms

A new app that has been on the market for over two years will help schoolchildren learn a new language, for free!

In developing countries like Malaysia, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, learning a new language such as English is seen as a ticket out of poverty. Well, at least a certain level of proficiency. The need for English language teachers is unquestionable. However, despite the demand, English teachers in these countries cannot speak English either.

For two developers, and co-founders of the popular app, Duolingo, Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker, believe it could aid language learners where resources are limited.

Duolingo first appeared on the App Store over two and a half years ago and today is holds an estimated 60 million users worldwide. But it’s not just benefiting those where access to good education is a problem; von Ahn sees it as a language educational tool for classrooms the world over.

With this in mind, von Ahn and his colleague Hacker are launching a new platform, ‘Duolingo for Schools’: an app that will enable teachers to track students’ progress and activity, and subsequently tailor lectures and classroom exercises.

“It’s hard to know how many, but we think right now we have a few thousand teachers using Duolingo without this feature. I think this will multiply that by a factor of ten easily,” von Ahn states.

Duolingo’s success is down to an increase in the activity of online learning, and the fact that it’s perceived by many that you can get a quality education for free online; an idea that has gone mainstream as the online learning space swells with newer and better learning apps, and even learning games!

Making money for free!

How does a free app pay the bills? The co-founders developed a business model to help pay for the free service. After a student finishes a lesson in Duolingo, they can test how much they have acquired by translating a piece of text in a news article or the like. With companies like Buzzfeed and CNN who pay Duolingo for these crowdsourced translations, according to von Ahn, it is Duolingo’s millions of students who churn out several hundred articles a day.

With all these advantages, some language academics have cautioned the use of apps like Duolingo, saying it can never replace the teacher, or the textbook, particularly at the university level.

“You can review vocabulary and practice verb forms, but it’s not giving you any cultural context.”

“You can review vocabulary and practice verb forms, but it’s not giving you any cultural context,” says Elise Mueller who’s an academic technology consultant specializing in language teaching and technology at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Whether or not Duolingo was designed for the classroom, teachers started incorporating it into their curriculum and since the original app wasn’t designed for this, teachers have had to make some unconventional workarounds. But ‘Duolingo for Schools’ will change all that.

Do you use Duolingo? If not, would you consider learning a new language through it? Let us know in the comments below.

The STAR Team

Source: Wired

Medical Miscommunication

Medical Miscommunication

Medical Miscommunication

From Poor Handwriting to Google Translate

Doctors’ handwriting had always been considered a menace around medical wards and general practices until recently a new one surfaced: Google Translate.

Anyone who has ever resorted to using Google’s alternative machine translation tool, even for non-medical reasons, knows what confusion it can cause.And yet this hasn’t discouraged medical staff from using GT during treatments. Typically, medics have to make quick decisions about a patient’s condition where no interpreters are present. In rolls Google Translate. It’s quick and easy so medical staff could get the gist of what their foreign national patients were saying.

Lost in Translation

A survey was carried out for the purpose of understanding what GT would return after translating 10 common medical phrases. The auto-translated phrases were then back translated by native human speakers of those languages — the results revealed all sorts of horrors. In one particular case, the medical English word “fitting”, a past participle of “to have seizures” was used: a mistranslation by medical staff whereby the English read, “your child is fitting”, in Swahili, it became “your child is dead”.

Another slightly less terrifying one was the Polish translation of a suggestion offered to relatives of a patient who either deceased, or nearly — “your husband has the opportunity to donate his organs”. To Google Translate and this in turn becomes, “your husband can donate his tools”!

Many other phrases churned out almost poetic translations such as one into Marathi (an Indian language) which read, “your husband had a cardiac arrest”. GT came out with, “your husband had an imprisonment of the heart”. In Bengali, the phrase, “your wife needs to be ventilated” resulted in, “your wife wind movement needed”. Imagining doctors and nurses alike repeating these poetic phrases adds a little humour. Perhaps not so much for the patients and their families.

Google Translate cannot recognise the context of the sentence or phrase it is translating, which results in mistranslations. Anybody relying on GT for formal communication may well find themselves in trouble, despite the hilarity of some of its flaws.

Have you ever come across any embarrassing mistranslations? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

The STAR Team

The Secret of Santa Claus — Track Santa on his journey

Santa Claus

Santa Claus

Christmas is almost upon us! And our thoughts are immediately drawn to the man himself: Santa. But who is he? Where did he come from? And how does he work so quickly?

Santa Claus is known by many names to children throughout the world: Saint Nick, Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas (in the Netherlands) and Father Christmas. But how much do you really know about him? Aside from his incredibly long and virtually ever-growing list of boys’ and girls’ names, Mr Claus never seems to age at all.

Where did he come from?

There’s no substantial information on Santa’s origin, but historians claim that he is approximately 16 centuries old and that he was once referred to as Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Christian priest in the Middle East. Saint Nicholas was well-known for bestowing gifts to the less fortunate: sprinkling them down chimneys and hiding treats in stockings.

But how does Santa deliver so many presents to all the children around the world in one night?

We have always wondered how on earth Santa manages this feat. The guys at NORAD, who track Santa’s path on Christmas Eve every year, have speculated that “he does not work within time as we know!” “His whole trip may appear to us as taking only 24 hours, but to Santa it may last days, weeks or even months in standard time!”

Mindboggling, right? This might explain how he appears to move so fast in one night. While he’s working away and delivering his gifts as normal, to us he is travelling at speeds we can hardly imagine. NORAD came to the only logical conclusion, “that Santa functions within a different time-space continuum than the rest of us.” Despite our best efforts to unravel the enigma of Santa Claus, only he knows! Perhaps that’s what makes us adore him even more.

You can track Santa’s path on the 24th of December using NORAD’s Santa Tracker.

From all the team at STAR Translation, we wish you and yours a Merry Christmas!

The Migratory Language: Welsh

Flag of Wales

Flag of Wales

Over 150 years ago,  some 150 Welsh migrants took to the seas seeking a new way of life in the new world.

They gave themselves three places to choose from as their new home: Vancouver Island, Palestine or Argentina. Ultimately they chose Argentina to settle and establish a new colony as their home — a valley named Chubut in the region of Patagonia. The reason for their decision to settle in that part of South America was one of isolation. At the time, there were no other European settlements in the region, only indigenous tribes.

There was a lot of political radicalism in Wales during the 19th century and a growing sense of Welsh national consciousness engulfed many rural communities. They wanted to retain their national identity without the possibility of a passive English language invasion.

Politics & Religion

One man named Michael D. Jones, a radical, a religious man and nonconformist, was tired of the political and religious influences the English had over the Welsh population. Jones was a believer in the preservation of the Welsh language and traditions. It was he who became the leader of this like-minded community of travellers and partly his decision to travel to Argentina.

Jones had a single objective: to build a new Welsh colony overseas. One that is self-governing, democratic and nonconformist.

New Hope: Argentina

As all new beginnings bring hardships and struggle, the new Welsh colony had to overcome many difficult obstacles. When they arrived in 1865, they lived in caves along the coastline. But as the years went by, they experienced a golden age, a period of good fortune and prosperity: a time of economic and cultural growth swept through the settlement. They spoke only Welsh and preserved many national traditional such as the Eisteddfod (a traditional ceremony called “the chairing of the bard”).

Changing Times

Decades later, the Argentine government stepped in and enforced all community settlements in Argentina to learn and speak only Spanish. This meant that Spanish could only be taught at schools.  There wasn’t much the Welsh community could do but slowly adapt as the Spanish language took hold and Welsh eventually lost the battle. However, some families kept the language in the house. Old world Welsh traditions didn’t die out either and are still practiced to this day.

Centenary Celebrations & Revival

One hundred years on, 1965, there was a growth in interest in all things Welsh. Welsh culture and language began to reassert itself into the settlement. The small village in Chubut was finally connecting to Wales and there was a sense of appreciation among the villagers of the pioneering role the first settlers played.

Michael D. Jones migrated from Wales to save Welsh national identity and establish it elsewhere. But what he failed to realise was, that with immigration comes assimilation: the new country creates its own, new identity. However, the Welsh-Argentine community of Chubut will always remain proud of its roots.

The STAR Team

Source: BBC Magazine

Transit NXT now supports translation in Adobe FrameMaker 12

Transit NXT & FrameMaker 12

Transit NXT & FrameMaker 12

You can now translate Adobe FrameMaker 12 files in TransitNXT!

For data exchange with Transit, the enhanced FMGate plug-in is available. The plug-in additionally supports FrameMaker 12. Furthermore, the support for FrameMaker 7 to 11 has been enhanced.

The plug-in can be found on our STAR Group website in the Download » Transit & TermStarNXT » Accessories section. There you can also find the latest documentation on installing FMGate and sharing data with Transit.

To install the plug-in, you will need your licence number at hand. You can only install the plug-ins if the optional filter for Adobe FrameMaker has been enabled for your licence.

Call us to discuss your next project!

The STAR Team

Traditional Italian Recipe: Spaghetti alla Carbonara

As an international translation company we have many different people and nationalities working for us. Serena, one of our Italian project managers, was asked the other day about Spaghetti alla Carbonara — the Italian way! Often recipes are different around the world, even though they have the same name. So Serena took the time to do something different for us and share her traditional Italian dish. Hope you like it!

It’s a bit different from our normal blogs. Please see below for the English translation.

Recipe: Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara: Ingredienti

Spaghetti alla Carbonara: ricetta facile per tutti!

  • Difficoltà: Bassa
  • Cottura: 10 min
  • Preparazione: 15 min
  • Dosi per: 4 persone

INGREDIENTI:

  • Pancetta, 150 gr.
  • Olio d’oliva, 2/3 cucchiai
  • Pecorino, 200 gr.
  • Pepe, secondo i gusti
  • Spaghetti, 400 gr.
  • Uova di gallina, 3 tuorli + 1 intero

PREPARAZIONE:

  1. Versate in una padella grande un pó d’olio d’oliva e della pancetta tagliata a cubetti.
  2. Fate soffriggere la pancetta e spegnete il gas quando é ben cotta.
  3. Preparazione: 1-2

    Preparazione: 1-2

  4. Nel frattempo sbattete in una ciotola le uova e aggiungete il pecorino, il pepe nero (secondo i gusti), un pizzico di sale e una noce di burro. Amalgamate bene il tutto.
  5. Preparazione: 3

    Preparazione: 3

  6. Nel frattempo, mettete sul gas una pentola con dell‘acqua dentro per far cuocere la pasta. Quando l’ acqua bolle, aggiungete un pizzico di sale, e buttate la pasta che preferite, preferibilmente spaghetti. Fate attenzione a non far scuocere la pasta e a farla cuocere al dente, perché in fine verrà ripassata ancora in padella sul gas!
  7. Aggiungete alle uova la pancetta e mescolate bene tutto.
  8. Preparazione: 4-5

    Preparazione: 4-5

  9. Dopo aver scolato la pasta, mischiatela alle uova e alla pancetta e ripassate il tutto in padella a fuoco lento, per far cuocere l’uovo. Aggiungete ancora pepe e pecorino secondo i gusti. Mescolate bene la pasta con gli ingredienti a fuoco lento!
  10. Preparazione: 6

    Preparazione: 6

    Spaghetti alla Carbonara in padella

    Spaghetti alla Carbonara in padella

Buon Appetito!


English Version

Spaghetti alla Carbonara — An easy recipe for all to enjoy

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Cooking Time: 10 mins
  • Preparation Time: 15 mins
  • Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • Pancetta cubes: 150g
  • Olive oil: 2/3 tablespoon
  • Pecorino Cheese: 200g
  • Ground black pepper for seasoning
  • Spaghetti: 400g
  • 4 Eggs: 3 egg yolks +1 whole egg

Cooking Method:

  1. Heat a large frying pan on the hob, add the olive oil and the pancetta cubes and fry until lightly golden in colour
  2. Beat the egg yolks and the whole egg in a bowl, then add grated pecorino cheese, some black pepper, a knob of butter and mix everything well
  3. In the meantime, bring some water to the boil in a large saucepan and just when it starts boiling, add a couple of tablespoons of salt. Add the spaghetti and cook them for a further 8 minutes, or possibly until “al dente” because the pasta will be placed over the steam!
  4. Drain the spaghetti well, tip into the frying pan with the pancetta and beaten eggs. Add more grated pecorino cheese and mix thoroughly
  5. Let everything cook slowly [on the fire] for one minute. The heat from the spaghetti will be sufficient to partly cook the egg, but still leave it creamy
  6. Add as much pepper and pecorino cheese you want

Enjoy your meal!

The STAR Team