Artificial intelligence is the new frontier of development and Alibaba and Tencent are investing a lot for its development. Artificial intelligence offers a faster and more efficient approach to information processing than today’s fastest computers and, thanks to this new technology, many traditional tools are revolutionizing.
It is the case of Sogou, China’s second largest search engine after Baidu, that launched an AI-powered language translator, with more than 3,000 pre-sold within the first 24 hours. The gadget can translate 17 languages – including English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Korean and Hindi – into Chinese through image-scanning and real time audio and text translation.
Wang Xiaochuan, founder and CEO of the company, said: “Translation will be one of the major breakthroughs for Sogou this year. We hope to make communication more convenient”. Sogou’s gadget went on sale Monday on e-commerce site JD.com for 1,498 yuan (US$237).
Sogou’s aim is to try and conquer this expanding market before Google and Baidu, trying to build a critical mass of users to earn advertising income from their translation services. Even google is an opponent, now that it re-entered the mainland Chinese market in October by promoting its translate mobile app to a new generation of users.
But what can this new Sogou gadget do? “Travel Translator Pal”, the name of the gadget, can translate even with background noise and its scanning ability helps users make sense of foreign language. “We focus on languages – it’s our core, like visuals, voice and we turn them into text,” Wang said
The choice to focus on translation is not recent. Indeed, Sogou has been developing voice recognition technology since 2011, and , at the World Internet Conference in November 2016, it demonstrated a voice translation with both Chinese and English translation with up to 95% accuracy.
In China the company is better known for its text input software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict and recommend phrases using standard pinyin romanisation for Chinese. The input method has been enhanced in recent years through use of AI; and now Sogou promises to conquer the voice translation market as well.