Building a Universal Translator

It’s absolutely amazing how fast technology is advancing. Unbeknownst to most users, Google Chrome has the built in capabilities to create a universal translator using nothing but HTML and Javascript.

Chrome implements the Web Speech API which allows you to use speech synthesis and speech recognition from Javascript. In this post I’ll outline how we created https://universal-translator.dotsub.com.

universal translator

First let’s decompose the steps required. The universal translator needs to do three things:

  1. Recognise what the user is saying.
  2. Translate the spoken phrase.
  3. Speak the result.

Speech Recognition

As I mentioned before Google Chrome has a built in speech recognition engine. Using this engine is pretty simple.

It is important to properly set recognition.lang to the language the user is speaking. In the full source code this is driven from the spoken language select. Now we have the spoken input from the user. This is all we need to complete step one.  

Machine Translation

We will use Google’s Translation API to translate our text.

Speech Synthesis

The Web Speech API also includes a speech synthesis engine. It only takes a few lines to get the browser to speak any line of text.

Here is the full speech synthesis part of our universal translator. It takes input from the user translates it to the target language and speaks the result.

Conclusion

There you have it, less than 150 lines of Javascript that makes a universal translator. The finished demo here: https://universal-translator.dotsub.com/. You can look over the code here: https://github.com/dotsub/universal-translator

Closed Captions vs. Narrative Subtitles

By Clara Garcia

 

Dotsub provides different kinds of captions, which adapt to your needs. Choosing which one is best for you is simple if you keep your intended audience in mind.

Dotsub’s 508 Compliant captions -commonly referred to as captions for the hearing impaired- follow the rules set by the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf. These include spoken audio, speaker identification, on screen text and “descriptions of audio” that give the hearing impaired the full experience of the video content. So sound effects that are not necessarily spoken out by your protagonists are included in the captions.

Here is an example. Michael Smolens, Chairman and Founder of Dotsub, had given quite a speech that brought his audience into applause. Such applause is included in the captions:

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In contrast, Dotsub’s narrative subtitles -also referred to as “broadcast-style subtitles”- are typically used for a different purpose: films, documentaries, etc. to be translated into another language/s or videos used for learners of English as a second-language. In this case, only spoken language is captioned, together with titles and other important pieces of on-screen text that would need to be translated for the audience to understand the storyline.

Here you have an example of narrative subtitle of Peter Crosby, Chief Revenue Officer of Dotsub, talking about our mission:

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And those very same subtitles were translated into Simplified Chinese:

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You can of course also have your 508 Compliant captions translated into any language you need – the choice is yours. Dotsub is here to help you reach a global audience!

The Mobile Film Festival Winners Announced

 

COPquoteDotsub was a proud sponsor of the 11th edition of the Mobile Film Festival!  Prize winners were announced in Paris during the December 2015 UN Conference on climate change. The competition was organized in partnership with the United Nations under the theme: “Act on Climate Change”.

The challenge was straightforward: using a smartphone, filmmakers were asked to create a one-minute-long film on the topic of climate change. The results were sometimes funny, sometimes moving, but always passionate.  Several of them were rewarded at a ceremony organized by the Mobile Film Festival with 500 guests at the Gaumont cinema on the Champs Elysée.

The 11th edition was the first to be open to international entrants and the first in partnership with the United Nations in the framework of this year’s climate negotiations in Paris. Altogether, 70 countries took part submitting 765 films, of which 75 from 27 countries were selected as finalists.  All finalist films with spoken dialogue were captioned in English using Dotsub.

 

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Michael Smolens, second from the left. Amila Kumarasinghe, third from left.

On hand to present the Public Award was Dotsub’s CEO, Founder and Chairman, Michael Smolens.  Receiving 2.4 million internet votes, the award went to Parametric by Sri Lankan Amila Kumarasinghe.

Other Winners are:

The Grand Prize: No Sense by Julien Lessi

Best Foreign Film:  Neglected Land by Elie El Abidine

Best Screenplay: Criminals by Jeremy Bernard and Guillaume Desjardins

Online Bloggers Prize:  The Blue Planet directed by Mathieu Lamboley

For a complete list visit:  http://www.mobilefilmfestival.com/awards/

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Some Photos from the Event: https://www.ooshot.com/ooshot-production/moodboards/mobile-days-2015

Sources:  http://www.unric.org/en/latest-un-buzz/30005-mobile-film-festival-winner-announced

How Things have Changed: The Words of 1995

Back to the Future turned 30 this year.  Dictionary.com and Yahoo! are celebrating 20 years in business.  Over the past 20 or so years there have been lots of words added to the lexicon.  Naturally, many of them have to do with technology.  Many of them are what linguists call a “functional shift” which is when a noun becomes a verb or vice versa (i.e. to friend).  Others are when a word retains the old meaning but has added another – see the Huffington Post link below.  One word that didn’t make that list was the first one that Dotsubbers guessed!  That word: Spam.

The original link to The Huffington Post.
Here’s the link to Yahoo!

 

Dotsub is a Technical Partner for Frontiers of Interaction

foiOnVideum_845x160Dotsub is proud to be a Technical Partner for Frontiers of Interaction.  Along with Dotsub Partner, Videum, we will be participating in the FrontierX: Health track.  Roberto Ascione, Primary Adviser for Videum and CEO at Healthware International, will be the Curator of the Health track, exploring how healthcare is being transformed by digital technologies.  Dotsub’s CEO and Founder, Michael Smolens, and our Chief Innovation Officer, David Orban, are featured speakers.

Frontiers of Interaction is the meeting point of design, technology and everything digital and interactive.  There are over 40 world class speakers from different disciplines and industries. Delegates are expected to number over 600 people this year.   Founders, entrepreneurs, designers, managers, academics, thinkers and makers will share insights, strategies and visions in an open conversation mood during two days of keynotes, workshops, panels and discussions.

The conference will take place on November 12-13, 2015 in Milan, the capital of Italian Finance, Innovation, Design and Art.

Dotsub Convenes Panel at Streaming Media West

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Streaming Media West
November 17 – 18, 2015
World-Class Video: Speaking To the Heart of Enterprise ROI

To deliver video ROI, global enterprises need to touch as many people as possible. Increasing video search, reach, access, and engagement are key.  Video captions are proven to increase video views and completions as much as 40%. And getting local culture right is critical for growing new markets, teams and future revenues. Translated subtitles can connect your company to millions more hearts and minds. This panel of multi-national video pros will discuss what works, and doesn’t, and share insider how to on questions like: Where’s the most ROI? If quality is critical to your company, what are good enough translations? And what are the risks of missing deadlines, cultural faux pas, and brand damage of bad translations.

Moderator: Peter Crosby, Chief Revenue Officer – Dotsub.com

Charlie Ung, Workforce Communications and Enablement – IBM Digital Media

Anja Schaefer, VP – Lionbridge Global Solution Team

Michael Novak, CEO – One Plus Two Media

The New Video Web

The New Video Web blogged by David Orban

Apple-TV-speech-recognitionThe next generation information devices are going to seamlessly display video content not restricted to a simple window within the browser. The entire screen will be a video, with smart elements that must be understood by the computer in order for the user to fully interact with them.

When the Web was born, even support for still images was a last minute add-on. Slow connections, and uneven graphics support meant that to deliver full multimedia experiences (as it was called at the time), CD-ROMs were preferred. These had proprietary authoring platforms, and their user interfaces had relatively primitive navigation menus, with limited options for interactivity.

Slowly, video has been integrated into the online experience. “Bolted on” would be a better expression. Famously, the most popular plugin for browsers that played video, Flash, was the source of vulnerabilities, made browsers slower and was a drain on batteries. The proprietary nature of Flash made the entire Internet ecosystem dependent on one vendor, Adobe, and was not sustainable.

The HTML5 standard includes native support for video through a new tag in the language. HTML5 was released last year, and the various browsers are being updated to include full support for it. But in the meantime, through the years, an even more important change happened: the ubiquitous presence of Internet-connected devices made it necessary for video content to accommodate a variety of ways of interacting with it (via smartphones for example), not just through traditional browsers and computers.

What will this new video experience be? What we will see is the blurring of the boundaries between traditional browser experiences and video. The entire screen will become a “smart” video, with the entire field being interactive. The objects and components of the video will be live and recognizable by the device, and the user will be able to activate and manipulate them. Multiple modes of human interface will be available, including voice, haptic, motion and gestural. Rather than Web video, we will have the Video Web. (This concept has been suggested to me by my friend Michele Leidi, a live mind mapping expert.)

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This is one of the reasons why platforms like Dotsub are so important. (Full disclosure, I am the Chief Innovation Officer of Dotsub, a New York based company which I led as CEO for four years.) Dotsub allows videos to be fully understood by computers, and people, in any language, as sound, text, context, and meaning. Making captions and translated subtitles a universal part of the online video experience, we can exploit their full value.

An important example of how this works in the new video web has been demoed by Apple during the keynote launching the latest Apple TV. On stage, at around minute 61 of the demo there was one particular moment of speech interaction: using the new remote with speech recognition. “What did she say?” The audience could listen to the audio track while reading the text at the same time so that what was said could be understood. This is a concrete example of how the presence of enhanced video, in the form of speech recognition and captions, and the universal assumption that captions will be available, enhances the user experience. Moreover, the entire Apple TV operating system itself, with all of its moving parts, and seamless integration of the videos, is an example of the concept of the emerging Video Web. Be on the lookout for more examples of this and an explosion in the richness of the Video Web in the near future.

David’s blog can be found here.

This post is also available in: Italian

Benefits to Children in Multilingual Environments

A recent study released from the University of Chicago, reveals that children who are exposed to multilingual environments have more experience interpreting what the speaker says than children who are exposed only to single language environments.

The most interesting finding was that the children do not even have to be bilingual themselves; it is the exposure to more than one language that is the key for building effective social communication skills.

So how did they test this?  The researchers had 72 children, aged 4-6 play a game with adults that involved moving objects according to the adults’ directions. The children were in three categories: monolinguals, bilinguals and a third group that of children who primarily spoke English, but were exposed to other languages as well.

“Children in multilingual environments have extensive social practice in monitoring who speaks what to whom, and observing the social patterns and allegiances that are formed based on language usage,” said Katherine Kinzler, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago who co-authored the report.

The results? The monolingual children were not as good at understanding the adult’s intended meaning in this game, as they moved the correct object only about 50 percent of the time. But mere exposure to another language improved children’s ability to understand the adult’s perspective and select the correct objects. The children in the third group selected correctly 76 percent of the time, and the bilingual group took the adult’s perspective in the game correctly 77 percent of the time.

This is important as it shows that children benefit directly from exposure to diverse lingual environments.

Sources:
http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/05/11/children-exposed-multiple-languages-may-be-better-natural-communicators#sthash.esMu9Tma.dpuf
http://www.ibtimes.com/kids-exposed-multiple-languages-are-better-communicators-study-1923781

Dotsub is a Proud Sponsor of the Mobile Film Festival!

Call for Videos – Deadline for submission is September 28, 2015.

This year the Mobile Film Festival is international and focused on the topic of Act for Climate Change. In collaboration with the United Nations, Dotsub, BNP Paribas, and Translators without Borders, this festival will celebrate the selection of 100 finalists and one Grand Prize winner presented under the auspices of the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP21 -see sidebar) in Paris in December.

Visit the official COP21 website. Know about climate change? Take the COP21quiz.
Visit the official COP21 website.
Know about climate change? Take the COP21 quiz.

We sat with Bruno Smadja, founder and CEO of the Mobile Film Festival, to listen to his compelling story.

Now in its eleventh year, the Mobile Film Festival has always strived to discover, support and assist filmmakers following one single premise: 1 Mobile, 1 Minute, 1 Film. This year, the Mobile Film Festival is bringing an exciting opportunity to content creators – the festival is going global!  Smadja’s challenge is to reach out to the whole world to find one minute films made on mobile phones that express the artists’ unique viewpoint on the topic of Act on Climate Change.

As you can imagine, lining up organizations as diverse as this year’s sponsors, is the culmination of months of cooperation and collaboration.

BNP Paribas has supported the Mobile Film Festival in the past and continues their commitment to all aspects of cinema in France, as well as all types of film-related events, both in France and abroad. The BNP Paribas Grand Prize winner is granted € 30,000 to make one film in one year.

The participants will naturally shoot their films in their native languages. 100 films will be selected for the official competition. Dotsub founder and CEO, Michael Smolens, and Smadja have a long relationship, so it was natural for Smadja to reach out to Dotsub to provide the platform for captions and translations. “We were delighted to join in this inspiring endeavor,” explains Smolens, “The removal of cross-cultural and cross-lingual obstacles is Dotsub’s mission – which applies so well to the UN Conference and the Mobile Film Festival.”

“We are very honored to be partnering with the United Nations for this very special and international festival,” said Smadja, “We are also excited that Dotsub enables us to tell this story of worldwide importance by breaking down language barriers, giving these filmmakers the chance to vastly extend the reach of their films to a global audience.”

As submissions are in the artists’ own languages, Dotsub will provide the platform for providing captions and translations for the 100 finalists with translation into being done by NGO Translators without Borders as well as other approved translators in scores of languages.
MFFquoteThese 100 films will be selected in competition.  The first place film maker will be awarded a grant of €30,000 from BNP Paribas to be used for the production of a film within a year.  All awards will be awarded in a ceremony on December 7, 2015 in Paris.

“We have asked for film creators to tap into their passion for the environment as well use their ingenuity to suggest solutions – all in one minute shot on a mobile device.  The results are incredible, we already have submissions from all five inhabited continents!” exclaimed Smadja.

Smadja continues, “It has always been our mission to discover and support young film makers.  But to be able to focus on a topic with global impact, and to showcase their talent at such a prestigious event, the UN Conference on Climate Change, well, it is a dream come true!”

sched2For more information, including the rules of entry and to upload films go to www.mobilefilmfestival.com.

About Mobile Film Festival

Bruno Smadja created the Mobile Film Festival in 2005. For the past 11 editions it has been dedicated to discover, support and accompany young directors by proposing to take part to a smart challenge based on a unique idea 1 Mobile, 1 Minute, 1 Film.

The Mobile Film Festival 2015 is an online film competition to discover new talent while raising awareness of climate change worldwide. The use of mobile technology creates a more level playing field that gives wide distribution to new storytellers. Judged by a panel of filmmakers such as Fernando Meirelles, winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony at The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015, with the Best Film getting put into production by a professional crew.

About Dotsub

Dotsub is a language product and services company making your online video available to all via translations, captions and voice-overs.  By increasing the global reach of your video, its value increases dramatically with added accessibility and audience engagement.  Our closed captions meet federal standards for the deaf and hearing impaired, and by offering translations in over 500 languages, Dotsub extends the influence of your video world-wide.  www.dotsub.com

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Translating for Growth

Article translated from the original Italian article: http://www.datamanager.it/2015/07/tradurre-per-crescere/

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In collaboration with the American video-captioning platform Dotsub, Italy’s DotWords provides a technological – and shared – approach to product communication localization

It’s inevitable. Every time you talk to David Orban, Dotsub’s Chief Innovation Officer, you feel as though you’re in the teleport room of the Starship Enterprise, knowing that at the end of the conversation, you’ll want to shout: “Beam me up, David!” You shake hands and you can feel the NFC chip he’s had implanted beneath his skin, with the password of his personal Bitcoin “blockchain”. You think you’ve exhausted every possible futuristic topic and he runs off a stream of data demonstrating that driverless cars are already on their way (but won’t run you down on a pedestrian crossing). A distributor of IT products, an advisor at Singularity University, a serial entrepreneur, an innovation officer, a consultant, a polyglot techno-evangelist, a great pioneer of the Internet of things, a visionary of cryptocurrency and the shared economy, Orban is an accredited ambassador for the future here in the present.

When I meet him this time, during one of his trips to Milan, it’s to hear about his latest business adventure, the DotWords language service provider. A step removed from his hyper-technological horizons you might think, yet with Orban, translation – possibly one of the world’s oldest professions, together with spying (and that other thing we won’t mention, which generates a pile of money on the web) – moves into a typically cyber context, thanks to the use of computer-assisted tools and a good helping of the concepts – openness, standardization, workflow management, crowdsourcing, knowledge sharing – that characterize the digital age.

DotWords’ services don’t stop with the translations executed by a network of expert native speakers, who – as company co-founder and CEO Gabriella Soldadino emphasizes, “also have to live in the nation of the language they speak to keep their skills fresh and up to date.” Orban prefers to talk about localization, the ability to move from one linguistic context to another, maintaining not only the meaning of the words, but the entire semantic thrust of the message being communicated. DotWords is more than a highly efficient translator: it is a partner providing clients with strategic support for shared growth based on multilingual communication. This is achieved, on one hand, through use of advanced automatic translation technologies (always under the supervision of human translators) flanked by work management and optimization tools; and, on the other, by transferring what Orban calls translation memories to the client: authentic specialist lexical databases, for use on future translations. For DotWords, the purpose of this arsenal of competences is not to create the usual lock-in effect, but to generate new communication in a full-sharing approach between provider and client.

The translation culture

“Looked at from the viewpoint of traditional providers of language services, we implement an innovative principle,” says Soldadino. “DotWords was created with the intention of making extensive use of captioning and automatic translation technologies. But we also take a cultural and ethical approach: besides making this more rigorous take on the localization concept available to the client – with an increase in workflow efficiency driven by our ability to re-utilize previously processed materials – we help the client become more autonomous by returning the knowledge we have accumulated together.”

The captions the DotWords CEO refers to are the product of Dotsub, the New York-based software company that has developed a collaborative web platform for online video subtitling and translation, of which Orban has been CEO since 2011. “The Dotsub system used to caption videos posted on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook makes its APIs available for everyone, so the translated content can be shared on the social networks,” Orban explains. Described as a complementary platform for the DotWords offering, Dotsub becomes one of the computer-aided translation tools the provider makes available to its clients. Another advantage is the presence, on the DotWords staff, of two project managers who “industrialize” the agency’s work, a vital job handled, in this case too, with ad hoc tools such as the Plunet platform, a “business and translation management system” for operators like DotWords. “The aim,” explains Gabriella Soldadino, “is to foster a translation culture in Italy, where tools of this type are not widely used and technical translations, required, for example, by European regulations, are still regarded as a cost rather than as an investment.”

Integrated communication

Orban and Soldadino’s professional ties date back to the days of Questar, a value added distributor established by Orban in the early 1990s. “We supplied clients with services to create a virtual commercial presence, localizing interfaces, commands, manuals, software packages,” says Orban. DotWords takes this concept to an even more strategic communication level. “Our mission is to teach the client to take advantage of the benefits offered by localization of its products and related documentation.” Benefits made highly cost-effective by the DotWords approach.

Established at the end of 2014 and operational since February, DotWords has already won important international clients in luxury goods, insurance and pharmaceuticals. The target it has in mind, however, also includes Italian companies, who could use localization to gather market-share in today’s globalized marketplace. The opportunities do not necessarily lie in Anglo-Saxon language areas. “The Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has just launched its latest model in India, a market with one billion people, and has overtaken Samsung and Apple in just three weeks,” notes Orban. How many small Italian “Xiaomis” could emulate its success if they spoke the right language?

The DotWords strategy, concludes Soldadino, also involves participation at global events and conferences as well as cooperation with trade associations, organizations and institutions on projects to raise business and public awareness of the importance of multilingual corporate communication. The DotWords integrated communication project is a candidate for the Smart&Start Italia initiative, promoted by the Ministry of Economic Development to facilitate hi-tech start-ups and spread a new entrepreneurial culture. This could be an important driver for a company that already speaks the (many) languages of innovation.