Despite years of economic stagnation, a feeling we are so familiar with in Europe, Japan proved that many good things can be expected from it at the latest TAUS Summit when it comes to innovation and application of machine translation as an embedded application in services and technologies.
However, the first striking news came from Korea. CSLi acquisition of Systran had surprised many (I’m no exception), but the presentation at TAUS explained many of the unknowns. It also provided a hindsight as to what the route map may be for the future of machine translation as a traction force in the translation industry. CSLi is Samsung’s machine translation provider of their famous S-Translator app. Their acquisition of a Western expert with vast experience in European languages has opened a lot more language pairs and expertise to Samsung. This, in turn, provides massive amounts of users’ search and language data to the corporation.
Hunnect’s experiences with engine machine translation without big data were an explanation for hands-on applications. Mr Sándor Sojnóczky classed “little” at 8M words within the human science domain. He was able to customize some engines and build on them and obtain real improvements by separating the material on 3 levels. His life sciences engine was based on a first level of general Life Science corpora, a second level based on Medical devices and Clinical Devices and a third level which was specific to a product. Despite the success, (post-editor producing around 900 words an hour) a general impression from this non-developer is that MT companies hardly provide the world-class customer care service other types of companies provide. In one word, his machine translation vendor got his money and his ideas and quickly moved on. (Users of PangeaMT presented optimum results with a single software engine at 5 million words at past TAUS events and Localization World, following the launch of our User Empowerment in Barcelona 2010, but we will refrain from self-promotion).
Growth at printing companies via machine translation? That is the title of Masanobu Ogata’s presentation from Toppan Printing Co Ltd. Their plan is to offer their translation system to Japanese companies expanding globally for free or at a very low price. The focus is low-cost operations to translate manga, novels, how-to books and other printed Japanese content, digitize it and sell it through Booklive. They will use it to reduce their in-house localization work and make it more efficient. If it is free, and it could become the standard system in Japan. Right now the system fills the demand for Asian languages, with business translation orders system to be launched in late 2014.
However, apart from in-industry news and developments, the limelight was cast on two applications that are making translation a utility. One came from NTT Docomo, introducing a kind of Google glass device and a menu translator which can magically return translations over pictures taken with one’s mobile phone. I got news only two days ago that google had bought a start up to do exactly that, offering driving signal translation as a use case.
The other breaking application came from Mark Seligman at Spoken Translation. Mark introduced a live translator for the medical sector which can understand and translate sentences within domains for certain language pairs, running a live transmission over the internet with one of his associates into German.
Our presentation on PangeaMT as the ultimate User Empowerment platform with which to experiment, and above learn and grow your company’s machine translation strategy was well received and understood, with plenty of Q&A. Buyers of machine translation technology are getting wiser and wiser. They do not want to become passive users of lonely engines with some nice statistics thrown at them.
*Explaining the advantage of technological independence rather than becoming an “engine buyer-user”.
Increasing, the ability to grow one’s system, clean, know the best of Moses and tweak all options to put maximum customization in the hands of users is becoming more popular, although some players like to mix concepts about what DIY and User Empowerment is (for self-promotion) at their presentations at industry event presentations.
The conference continued with Jaap explaining TAUS roadmap for the Human Language Project, a long-term driving force like the Human Genome project in order to disentangle languages. With the idea of MT becoming the Lingua Franca, the Data Repository with its attractive matrix of languages is an attractive feature to any machine translation enthusiast. Other work includes the quality metrics and studies on finding things like annotated data, and a program called FT2MT which would include automatic selection for optimal model combination, a shift from translation data to library of models, and a strong accent on evaluation which must be automated as human evaluation is too costly and lengthy.
Finally, it was NTT Docomo’s Menu translator the application which won TAUS Innovation price. Plenty of things can be expected from Japan again