Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Screengrab from myLanguage's Vocre promotional video

myLanguage

Asking the way to the bus station in a foreign language is one thing, but travellers often have difficulty with more nuanced requests in localized dialects.

But Vocre, a new iPhone app released by translation company myLanguage, leverages crowd-sourcing to continually improve the accuracy of its translations to allow people to express themselves in the same way as native speakers.

"It's like asking your friend down the street, 'How would I say this in Spanish?' " said Andrew Lauder, founder and CEO of myLanguage.

Story continues below advertisement

"It might not be something that's expected by a dictionary – but it is the right way to say it when you go to that specific part of the world. It has the colloquialisms or slang of the area."

The translation engine trains itself based on user-contributed corrections, queries made by other users in their native languages, as well as their own linguists, to determine the most common way a native speaker would say a particular phrase.

The app uses the iPhones accelerometer as a source of input so that users don't need to tap the screen. They simply hold the phone in one direction to record their voice, and then flip it in the other direction to make it talk in the translated language.

Mr. Lauder said that the company's expertise lies in the translation technology, rather than the voice transcription or human speech technology, which are driven by Nuance (speech-to-text) and iSpeech (text-to-speech) respectively.

"We've really invented a new type of translation technology that learns every single time a translation is done," said Mr. Lauder. "Nobody has focused on what's the right way of saying this. And that's important because there's meaning attached to what we say – people will know if you're saying something funny, for example."

Although the technology has been praised, the app has been criticized as both pricey and not very user friendly. Mr. Lauder said the company hopes to resolve both issues in an update expected this week that will make the app more intuitive to use, and also introduce a new pricing model.

The pricing will move away from a credit-based model towards a subscription-based model. The app will be free for use for the first 24 hours upon initial launch, but then will require a weekly or monthly subscription.

Story continues below advertisement

Competitors for the app include Google Translate, Jibbigo (both of which have free versions of their apps) and SmartTrans, which also makes use of Nuances voice recognition software and costs $19.99.

The app, available on the Apple App Store, currently supports nine languages – three dialects of English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese and Japanese. Support for ten more languages is planned.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies