Google's Translatotron can translate speech in the speaker's voice

Google's Translatotron can translate speech in the speaker's voice

If that scenario fills you with dread, you'll be pleased to know that Google is working on a new AI (artificial intelligence) model that effectively allows you speak another language in your own voice.

Translatotron skips the usual step of translating speech to text and then back to speech again.

Google has announced Translatotron, an "experimental new system" that it says will translate speech directly into speech, removing the need for any text. Although "real-time" voice translation is already available on services such as Skype, experts said that Google's Translatotron program paved the way for more accurate and natural-sounding interactions over the phone and through translation apps.

Automatic speech recognition, which transcribes speech as text; machine translation, which translates this text into another language; and text-to-speech synthesis, which uses this text to generate speech.

According to Google, Translatotron uses a sequence-to-sequence network model that takes a voice input, processes it as a spectrogram - a visual representation of frequencies - and generates a new spectrogram in a target language. As direct speech-to-speech interpretation eliminates intermediaries, it works faster, reduces interpretation errors that could arise during conversion, and can even ignore words that don't need to be translated. It is definitely worth checking out if you want to see how Translatotron is able to retain aspects of the original speaker's voice.

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It also makes use of two other separately trained components: a neural vocoder that converts output spectrograms to waveforms.

To preserve a speaker's tone as mentioned before, Google relies on an optional "speaker encoder" step that can "maintain the character of the source speaker's voice in the synthesized translated speech".

During training, the sequence-to-sequence model uses a multitask objective to predict source and target transcripts at the same time as generating target spectrograms.

Google admitted that the system needs refining through further training of the algorithm.

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