Brian Steiner of Popular Mechanics reports, “AT&T Translator, a service on the company’s teleconference system that translates speech between languages in real time, is currently in pilot testing by some of the company’s biggest business customers. PopMech caught up with Mazin Gilbert, assistant vice president for technical research at AT&T Labs–Research, to learn about the challenges of teaching machines to understand human speech.”

Gilbert told Steiner, “Language is one of the largest barriers to communication globally. In the 1980s, we produced a short film of what communications would be like in the future. We had a vision that at some point in our lifetime there would be some intelligence in the network where you could pick up the phone and talk to anyone in the world regardless of the language you spoke… The technology is a product of more than two decades of research at AT&T in speech recognition, speech synthesis, and natural language processing. There’s nothing like this in the world of enabling multiparties to converse in real time across languages. It requires tremendous expertise in linguistics, machine learning, speech, and signal processing that we have at AT&T.”

Read the rest of the interview at Popular Mechanics.

Image: Courtesy AT&T