Samsung to add real-time translation to smartphone model

SEOUL - Samsung Electronics will roll out a real-time call translation service using AI technology next year, claiming it would make conversing across languages as easy as "turning on closed captions".

Samsung is among a host of tech companies spending billions in a global artificial intelligence gold rush, which has so far seen chatbots that mimic human speech and software that can generate lifelike images and videos.

The firm, the world's largest smartphone maker, says the new real-time translation feature will be incorporated into its new Galaxy flagship model, which will launch early next year.

It will enable "real-time translation in audio and text as the callers are on the line", a company spokesman told AFP, adding that it has not been determined how many languages will be supported.

The translation will be enabled even if a call partner uses a non-Samsung smartphone, as the new model will use "on-device AI technology".

Speaking to someone in a foreign language using the feature will be "as simple as turning on closed captions" on streaming shows, Samsung said in a press release, with private conversations safely locked in on the phones.

Analysts said it would be a "significant achievement" and sign of real technological progress if Samsung's AI could offer real-time translation of voice calls -- but questioned how it would work.

"The whole process will take at least three to four seconds during which the AI will understand an original content and translate into a foreign language and then verbalises it to a listener," said Lee Won-kang, head of AI-based translation startup XL8's South Korea operation.

"We will have to actually see and use it ourselves to see how good it is, including whether translated contents will be spoken in AI voice or original voice."

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