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It could be the next best thing to learning a new language. Microsoft researchers have demonstrated software that translates spoken English into spoken Chinese almost instantly, while preserving the unique cadence of the speaker's voice—a trick that could make conversation more effective and personal.
The first public demonstration was made by Rick Rashid, Microsoft's chief research officer, on October 25 at an event in Tianjin, China. “I'm speaking in English and you'll hear my words in Chinese in my own voice,” Rashid told the audience. The system works by recognizing a person's words, quickly converting the text into properly ordered Chinese sentences, and then handing those over to speech synthesis software that has been trained to replicate the speaker's voice.
Video recorded by audience members has been circulating on Chinese social media sites since the demonstration. Rashid presented the demonstration to an English-speaking audience in a blog post today that includes a video.
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