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Amazon launches a Live Translation feature for Echo devices


Amazon launches a Live Translation feature for Echo devices – TechCrunch

Amazon today announced a new Alexa feature, Live Translation, that will translate conversations between people who speak two different languages. The feature uses Amazon’s speech recognition technology and neural machine translation technology to work, and supports translating between English and French, Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese (Brazilian), German or Italian.

To use Live Translation, an Echo device owner can issue a voice command like “Alexa, translate French” to get started with translating between English and French. When you hear the beep, you can speak in either language, even taking natural pauses between your sentences, Amazon claims. Alexa will then automatically detect the language being spoken and translate each side of the conversation. On Echo Show devices, you can also see the translation in addition to hearing it.

To end a translation session, you say “Alexa, stop.”

The company had been revealed to be working on a universal language translation feature according to a 2018 report from Yahoo Finance.

The new addition may now make Alexa more competitive with Google devices, which can leverage Google’s existing Translate service via Google Assistant. Google Home devices had introduced the ability to translate conversations on the fly in early 2019 across a wide range of languages through a feature called Interpreter Mode. Today, Interpreter Mode works across many Google devices, including smart speakers, smart displays, smart clocks and even Google Assistant on phones and tablets. However, when Google added live translation to its Pixel Buds, the feature initially flopped.

How well Alexa’s translation feature will work requires further testing after today’s launch.

Live translation is the latest in a series of language-focused updates for Echo devices.

The feature follows on last year’s introduction of multilingual mode for U.S. speakers, which allows Alexa users to speak a combination of English and Spanish, French and English, and Hindi and English, for example. Alexa can also translate a single word or phrase into more than 50 supported languages.

In addition to helping users better communicate, Amazon says the feature can be used for language learning and for communication between hotel guests and staff through Alexa for Hospitality, its platform designed for the hotel industry.

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As 2020 comes to a close, some parts of the startup world are completing a loop, ending the year where they began.n

Startup valuations, for example, as seen in the Silicon Valley area are effectively back to where they were at the start of the year. According to a report from Fenwick & West examining data through October in the San Francisco Bay area, the percentage of startups that raised up rounds (rounds priced higher than preceding investments) came within spitting distance of its pre-COVID levels.n


n

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.n


n

There are other positive signs in the data for startup bulls.n

""Median and average price increases for startup valuations in the Valley have both crested their 2019 averages. The gains have proven especially sharp amongst software startups, which managed somewhat epic valuation gains in October; Fenwick’s data, something we’ve covered before on The Exchange, lags the calendar month somewhat.n

This morning, let’s take a break from IPOs to look at startup health in the region still generally heralded as its promised land.n

Revenge of the bullsn

As optimism for business conditions u2014 tech-focused startups in particular u2014 improved in Q3, startup valuations kicked off Q4 on a strong note.n

In October, Silicon Valley startup investments that were pricedu00a0up from their preceding deal rose to 79%. That’s down from what Fenwick reports as 2019’s average, but a dip from 83% to 79% is not much. Notably, startups in the region managed to reach an up-round percentage of rounds in the mid-to-high-seventies over the summer, but during those months down rounds were 11% to 17% of the total.



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