Language is the most important form of communication; the words we use convey our thoughts, emotions and ideas. But unfortunately, not everyone has the same lexicon. Since the Tower of Babel, the use of different languages has caused division among peoples, and today more than ever, businesses and individuals are seeking real-time translation services in order to communicate with partners and customers around the world.
Developed in Israel by Lexifone, an innovative mobile app now makes it possible to understand almost anyone from anywhere – a capability that is becoming essential in our global village.
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Lexifone’s in-call translator allows people from different countries to freely converse, overcoming the language barrier. With this mobile app, you simply dial the person you wish to speak to and after each person speaks once, an automated translator will translate every part of your conversation, as if a third person is there interpreting.
For example, a person can speak English to someone who speaks Hebrew, and Lexifone will simultaneously translate what was said in English into Hebrew and vice versa. The translation is produced using tailored software Lexifone has embedded into its app.
To access the service, download the app from either the Google Play store or the Apple App store, and dial from within the app; no internet connection is required to do so. Alternatively, you can call Lexifone’s landline, where you will be asked to dial the number you want to reach and once the call is connected, Lexifone will start translating.
For individual consumers, the first 10 minutes are free, and after that, the service costs $10 per hour of airtime. Certain packages and pricing options are available to large corporations, call centers and government agencies. Lexifone also offers licensing agreements to developers who would like to incorporate translation features within their own apps.
Simultaneous translation on the phone or face-to-face
There is also a complementary feature that Lexifone offers for face-to-face interactions. If you encounter someone who speaks a foreign language or if you are having a meeting with people who don’t share the same native tongue, you can put your phone on speaker, then dial Lexifone’s access number and the translating service will begin. And although Lexifone is machine-based, it can even correctly translate popular slang words!
Lexifone‘s technology works through its computer servers, which run a sophisticated speech recognition software that understands and speaks a variety of languages using a collection of “voice dictionaries.”
According to the company, Lexifone has tens of thousands of users, who are served by the company’s 12 employees in Israel and in New York. Lexifone was founded in Haifa four years ago by father and son Ike and Itay Sagie. In its initial stages, the company raised nearly $3 million from Canadian company Intertainment Media, as well as from Israeli angel investors.
Dr. Ike Sagie has 30 years of experience in computer engineering and computational linguistics. A few years ago, he realized that automated translation only existed for text messages and documents, but a similar service for phone calls was not yet available.
Lexifone currently supports more than 20 languages whereas most other competitors support fewer languages, Itay Sagie claims. Being the first business of its kind made it difficult for Lexifone to “educate the marketplace about what it is and why they need it”, he admits. Therefore, Lexifone predominantly targets large corporations and call centers which require translation for their business and typically pay high prices for human interpreters.
In our global village, it seems that Lexifone can come in handy, especially for global corporations and business people who seek a simple solution for effectively communicating with their counterparts around the world.
Photos and video: Lexifone