Imagine a world where you can have a conversation with anyone from around the globe in your own language: Israeli startup Lexifone may beat Skype to that punch.
On December 15, Skype announced their new Skype Translator preview, which gives users the ability to speak another language without learning one. Users can simply set up a Skype video or voice call with someone who speaks another language and start talking, while the whole conversation is translated automatically in real time.
But the preview program currently only supports two spoken languages: Spanish and English.
For those that want to talk to folks in real time, a startup called Lexifone may be the best current option. Lexifone is the world’s first automated technology for in-call interpretation and can translate outgoing and incoming calls in 16 different languages.
I happen to know the founders of Lexifone and it’s exciting for me to see the amount of time these guys are investing in research and development.
Lexifone delivers in-call translations on any landline or mobile device, letting users communicate with others who speak a different language. The process is very simple: both sides of the call speak and Lexifone translates both ends of the conversation in real time. During the conversation, both sides of the call will hear the original voice and the translation coming from the other end.
While Lexifone doesn’t support video call translations like Skype does, Lexifone translates outgoing and incoming calls in more languages and allows businesses to personalize and enhance accuracy by “teaching” Lexifone their own custom sentences for more consistent accuracy of translation. This linguistic adaptation feature is available to all the 16 languages the company offers.
“This product is a valuable tool to any business – small or large – that wishes to grow around the world and is bound by language barriers,” said Steve Dubnik, Lexifone CEO, in a statement. “Lexifone’s service is highly valuable to global commerce and to global telecommunication. Through our offering, we enable people to speak their own language, while still being able to take care of both personal and business tasks that would be close to impossible without the translation service we offer.”
Lexifone’s next steps
So far, the company has raised around $4.5 million with Excell Partners, Intertainment Media and the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist as the main investors. Lexifone’s headquarters is in New York, its R&D center is in Haifa, Israel, and its business development office is located in San Francisco.
Lexifone plans to launch an API for VoIP developers in January that will be made live during this year’s International CES event in Las Vegas. Lexifone’s Android app is already available on the Google Play store, and an iOS app is currently in development with an expected early 2015 launch.
Check out the video below to see how Lexifone works.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Languages signpost including English, French, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Thai, German and Russian. By Lonely Walker