Google has added real-time translation capabilities to its Google Home smart speakers, the Home Hub screened speaker, as well as other screened devices from third parties, according to Android Police.
The search giant announced the feature at CES last month and has now made good on that promise, with updates going out to devices.
While it’s not particularly novel or technologically groundbreaking, the addition of this feature could provide Google with a path into enterprise sectors and customer service use cases, broadening the overall market for its devices.
Google has offered similar real-time translation for a number of years through its Google Translate web app, but it’s now expanding to its voice-first devices. Users can say a set phrase asking the device to be their interpreter, and then Google Assistant will translate from one language to another in real time.
With screen-equipped devices, it will display the translated text on the screen in addition to speaking. The translation apparently works best with simple sentences, phrases, and grammatical structures, according to Android Police’s testing, while more complex requests start to become unclear or nonsensical.
The addition of real-time translation could make the Google Home Hub or devices like the LG Smart Display useful tools for multinational enterprise firms and multilingual customer service installations.At airports or hotels, for example, these translation-capable devices could be set up at check-in counters to simplify conversations between foreign travelers and workers, while also reducing the need to hire multilingual workers.
Similarly, companies could buy and set up these devices in multilingual offices or collaborative centers — for instance, workers from the US, UK, and throughout Europe at Vodafone and IBM’s joint development site — to facilitate communication between employees who don’t all speak the same primary language.
These business use cases are limited currently, though, because Google’s smart speakers can only translate in one direction, rather than interpreting for both sides of a conversation. Eventually adding that capability would bolster this feature, and potentially help Google establish itself as a key provider of language-based enterprise services.
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