Friday May 30 2014
Microsoft says its ground-breaking application for Skype will enable people from all over the world to talk to each other without language barriers. Is Microsoft actually aiming at discouraging people from learning languages? Won’t that make humans rather dependent on technology and simply ignorant? I will certainly be interested to test this app once it becomes available – just to see whether its translations will actually make any proper sense.
Tereza Pultarova, online news reporter
Sensor-assisted livestock management has the potential to enable farmers to track their animals more effectively across a range of applications – and the data can later be aggregated to help inform big-picture analyses of agricultural trends. Now look out for ‘The Internet of Pets’…
James Hayes, technology features editor
Google’s announcement this week has attracted a lot of interest, and shows how fast the technology is advancing. Driverless cars can already work in closed environments, with a choice of defined destinations – but go-anywhere vehicles on public roads? Despite Google’s best efforts, I’m not expecting to see that anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Hindustan Motors is ending manufacture of the Ambassador – which has been rolling off the production lines since 1958 and still looks much the same is it did then. No doubt it’s sad news for those who link the car with Indian identity, but times change and businesses must adapt or die.
Lorna Sharpe, news and transport editor
Intel’s 3D printed robot, which you can build yourself, shaves £89 off of the Robogarage version (who recently sent their latest model into space), which was pieced together by parts included in a magazine subscription over 70 issues.
Abi Grogan, assistant engineering features editor
Never mind the spectators in the stadium – grounds hosting matches in this year’s World Cup in Brazil will have to make sure that lighting at night-time matches is good enough to satisfy the millions around the world who will be watching on HDTV and even in 3D. Companies providing lighting technology for the tournament are well aware of this and have some clever tricks up their sleeve.
Dominic Lenton, managing editor
For me in my other incarnation (I was trained as a professional translator/synchronic interpreter), the key words in this seemingly ground-breaking news item are “there is still a lot to be improved”. We are all familiar with the gorgeously grotesque boo-boos of the existing translators’ software. In fact, I’ve just typed the above words – “there’s still a lot to be improved” – in Google Translate and asked it to render them in Russian. The result is eight spelling, grammatical and stylistic mistakes which make the above phrase hardly comprehensible in English. Knowing from my own experience how much knowledge, stamina and – yes – creativity are required from a successful translator, I remain sceptical as to the new Skype Interpreter’s capabilities. Reassuringly for the practising translators, the news story asserts that the latest software “doesn’t remove the need to learn foreign languages yet”. A loud sound of relief in all existing 4,500 active languages of the world…