Babelverse real-time human voice translation service opens public beta

Users can request translations of existing media or live events

Babelverse, a service designed to enable users to directly contact a human translator anytime, anywhere, opened a public beta of their service in Amsterdam on Thursday.

Babelverse is a real-time human translation platform that aims to deliver simultaneous as well as consecutive human translations that are better than computer-generated equivalents, founders Josef Dunne and Mayel de Borniol said at the Next Web conference in Amsterdam.

The startup relies on three groups of interpreters to deliver translation services: trainees, experienced multilingual speakers and professional interpreters. Trainees offer their services for free at first and can become experienced interpreters who get paid. In addition, there are also professional interpreters who are available for premium rates. Interpreters get 70 percent of the per minute interpretation price charged to users.

Interpreters and people looking for translations can subscribe to the service's public beta. Users can request translations of existing media, like YouTube videos and conference talks, and event organizers can request a live translation of their events. Currently, Babelverse is translating the Next Web conference into Spanish and Portuguese to allow a Latin American audience to follow the conference live in their own language. The service was tested by live interpretation of President Obama's State of the Union speech last January.

The service will not use English as the de facto language into which other languages are translated, the Bableverse founders said. "We want people to speak their own language," Dunne explained. So, German should be translated directly into Japanese or Mandarin into Spanish, the founders said.

In the first phase, Babelverse will be used for translating existing media and live events. "But in the future the purpose is to get it at anytime in your pocket," Dunne said. Users should be able to use Bableverse through their mobile phones and request a direct translation on the spot, the founders envision.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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