We get hundreds of amazing emails everyday. The majority are extremely enthusiastic about Babelverse and people are eager to participate as interpreters or actually start using it. Others just don’t get what we are doing. Take this one for instance:
Subject: Don’t use human translators
Message: Hi, Cool app! Have a suggestion.
– Mobile internet is costly in roaming.
– English is #1 language globally. So, 80% of interactions could include English.
– Create an application that will record English speach, convert to text, translate to Local language and say via text-to-speech.
Not great quality. But see on the market and cost sides.
– Big market
– Low costs (no variable costs!)
Monetisation: sell whole application ($1-10).
This is exactly what Babelverse is not about. We’re building a global community of people that can mutually help each other communicate regardless of language, and certainly not an automated smartphone app set up to make a quick buck.
Babelverse relies on people to preserve the quality, context, cultural relevance, tone and emotion of the spoken word. Much better than any algorithm! Machine translation is just not reliable for real conversations.
Some of the companies that have taken the automated approach are apparently realising that it doesn’t really work, take this tweet by the creators of a machine-powered voice translation app (currently #1 in the US App Store – their user reviews are an interesting read btw).
We mentioned them during our presentation on-stage at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC last week:
Here’s their response:
BTW @babelverse you're right. MT does not solve the problem…— iTranslate (@iTranslateApp) May 22, 2012
Also, while English (or rather, Globish) is being used by many people around the world to communicate across borders, we think this is not the ideal solution. Communication becomes poorer when two people are speaking in languages other than their native tongue, they are forced to use only a subset of available vocabulary, etc. We also believe that the diversity of languages contains much richness, it shapes how people think, act and interact in different cultures. Humanity has a lot to gain in preserving this, and much to lose if we move towards just speaking one language. There are many scientific and philosophical papers about this, but we’ll start by recommending this great science-fiction book: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.
People vs. Robots. Whose side are you?