Any trekkies out there? Do you remember the Universal Translator from the show, which could translate alien languages into the native language of the user? We just might be getting closer to that with the new Conversation mode on Google Translate.
Google Translate is a free app on the Android smartphone. Before, Google Translate was only able to translate with text, but they have now included audio capabilities. In Conversation mode, one speaker says a phrase and it plays back in a different language (for now, it's just between Spanish and English, but more languages are on the way). The other speaker, having understood the recording, speaks in their language and it plays back in the other language.
I tried the app for myself since I have an Android and it is free. I found the translating abilities a little slow. The app was able to record my voice, but it didn't play back in Spanish like I thought it would. Maybe I lacked an update for everything to work?
Lately, I've been getting a lot of questions about how to solve the issues associated with multi-cultural project management, including language barriers. Communication is certainly the hardest part of project management. Project managers must ask, 'is everyone communicating what they are actually doing?' It's hard enough to manage projects with speakers of all the same language, which is, in my case, English. Google Translate has to get even better at eliminating the language barrier by adding more languages, having faster translations, and providing extremely accurate translations. Google is working on improving its artificial intelligence by using poetry for translation practice. Once the language barrier is eliminated, think about how much easier multi-cultural communication will be! But cultural barriers themselves? That's a whole different story.