Build a universal translator

Dave Conroy has done something pretty exceptional with his Raspberry Pi: he’s turned it into a speech-recognising translator that recognises 60 different languages, and plays its native-speaker version of your phrase back for you. It can cross-translate between thousands of language pairs.

Hands up: I admit it. This is an application I just hadn’t imagined someone using the Pi for, and that it’s all done with free software on a tight budget is something that made us all smile. There’s no reason that this project can’t be shrunk down and made portable, which is great news for the likes of me and some of my friends in Japan: we have terrific conversations but they all involve a lot of mime, drawing on napkins and the help of two phones running Google Translate.

Google Translate and Microsoft Translate’s APIs are central to being able to create a project like this Raspberry Pi universal translator. Unfortunately Google has started charging $20 use of its API, but Microsoft’s API (in a bit of a reversal of what we’re used to) is currently still free, so Dave has been using that instead.

Dave’s done a beautiful job with a tutorial, and has made all his code available on GitHub for you to use or modify. As he says, even if you’re not interesting in building this translator, there are still many parts of this tutorial that might be interesting to you (speech recognition, text to speech,  translation APIs). Let us know if you build your own – and let us know what you might be using it for!