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As more and more opportunities for people to travel abroad or communicate with people using different languages, their desire to break language barriers intensify. Google Translate provides a solution.
The way to operate it is really simple: just open up the app, select the two languages you would like to convert between and input the original content via handwriting, camera or speaking. Then you get the response with little delay.
In order to achieve a simple mode of operation, Google Translate has to build up a complex design. In other words, it is a well-designed product, with “a hybrid structure containing interconnected, independent and hierarchical elements”. (Clark, 2000)
Language translation is the most basic and apparent functionality Google Translate provides. It is supported by Google’s strong computing power and database. Its basic translation system is built upon all available United Nations documents in six official languages. (Murphy, 2013) In addition, a sea of Web documents and users’ feedback also contribute to make up its data sets. Besides, English is taken as the intermediary step language in the conversion of other two languages. However, all the process of data collection, analysis and conversion are hidden beneath the icon “translate”.
Beyond language translation, it also implements the technologies of converting text, voice, handwriting and images information to voice and text response, which means it has to interact with other components or modules on mobile phone.
Handwriting to Text
Handwriting is the one of the methods to input content waiting for converting. Google Translate works together with touch sensitive scree and implements touch-screen handwriting recognition technology to interpret users’ movements into texts.
Voice to Text and Text to Voice
Google Translate works with microphone, loudspeaker and audio systems to achieve voice input and output. To fulfill the needs of speech-to-text conversion. it employs Text-to-Speech Technology and Speech Recognition or Dictation Technology, which is based on deep learning and big data.
Camera Instant Translation
Google Translate integrates Word Lens, an augmented reality translation application, to achieve camera instant translation and visual presentation. It uses camera on mobile phone to scan and quickly identify text in foreign language, and then complete the translation and display on the screen.
Tap to Translate
This is a relatively novel function in Google Translate. It improves the users’ experience by eliminating the additional efforts they make on shifting between Google Translate and other apps with content. In order to achieve simultaneous operation, Google Translate manages to not occupy onboard storage while keep all its functions by shrinking their language packages by 90 percent.
Carliss Y. Baldwin and Kim B. Clark (2000). Design Rules, Vol. 1: The Power of Modularity. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Kate Murphy. (2013). A Score or More of Languages in Your Pocket. Retrieved from the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/technology/personaltech/the-utility-and-drawbacks-of-translation-apps.html