If I told you that an Aussie bloke from North Queensland had created an app that could revolutionise global communications you’d think I was mad as a cut snake. But it’s true. A new app called DoTalk will connect people across the world or across the office speaking different languages by neutralising language as a barrier to conversation.
I’ve looked at all sorts of translation services over many years, and while Google Translate may not be widely respected in the industry it has a huge global user base and improves every single day.
Problem with Google Translate is that other than their cool Android App which can translate signs and menus in almost real-time, you need to type what you want into a browser, get the translation, then copy and paste the response into a chat app.
Enter Reno Nicastro, a bloke from Cairns who wondered why the translation couldn’t happen in real-time.
Rather than do nothing, he did something, and what he created is nothing short of bloody impressive.
DoTalk is the name of the app, and in simple terms it allows you to add contacts to the app, sending a text message in their own language to invite them into the app and once they join you can have a chat in real-time in both your languages.
“Our goal with DoTalk was to create a free, fun and easy-to-use app which provides an open forum for people to easily connect and communicate, regardless of language barriers or location and without delay,” says Reno.
“With applications across everyday life, from business to travel, dating and everything in between, now nothing will be lost in translation. We live in a truly global economy so DoTalk has benefits for absolutely everyone.”
“Whether you are travelling, booking a cab or hotel overseas, want to communicate with international relatives, someone exotic you’ve met online, as the modern-day pen pal, or you just want to learn another language – DoTalk is the tool to connect you to people regardless of where they are or what language they speak.”
When I first downloaded the app some weeks ago, I didn’t have high expectations – how good could an Aussie company really be at this? But it’s slick – a really well designed app, that works very well!
Once a chat is opened you can either type text on the keyboard and send, or use a big microphone button to press and hold to speak to your phone in your language and see it appear on-screen in both your language and the language of the person you are chatting with.
I tried it with friends in Chinese, Spanish and Dutch.
Amazing. That was the reaction on both sides of the chat.
Using the microphone was less successful for longer chats, but the app warns you to use short phrases rather than long chats. It missed a few things on the microphone pickup but that’s as normal in voice recognition.
With keyboard chat it’s just amazing. As with any translation you need to be careful there isn’t a lost in translation context issue at all, but at a glance this translation was amazing.
According to DoTalk their proprietary technology is what enables the whole process, with APIs and speech recognition powering the accuracy in translations.
So is DoTalk the next What’s App? The next WeChat? Probably not.
Has Reno created something impressive that will have people taking more than a second glance.
For now, the app will be idea for one to one and group conversations, but imagine his translation technology being sold to Facebook – imagine a messenger app or chat app which opens up a whole new world in relationships or business.
Workplaces with offices across the world become one with group chats and collaboration exercises taking full advantage of this type of technology.
The app can translate 90 languages with instant voice translation in 50 languages. My only request would be a simple button to do translations in languages. From what I can see thus far in my testing you need to add a friend and choose their language before you can do a translation.
For travellers, a simple “langauge choice” and microphone button would be great for instant translations.
If you want to know more, I’ll be speaking to Reno Nicastro tonight on Talking Technology – 8pm on Talking Lifestyle.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.