While waiting for more than 30 million visitors this year at the top of tourism in Japan, the language barrier is becoming more and more evident and a problem the country hopes to solve with voice translation technology.
Developed by the Japan National Communications and Information Technology Institute (NICT), VoiceTra software automatically translates conversations between Japanese and 30 languages and is already used in areas such as health, emergency, transportation. and tourism.
The introduction of this voice translation system in the service sector is part of the Global Communication Plan (GCP), which aims to “break the language barriers” of ”Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications” of Japan in 2014.
In this way, the ministry expects information and communication technologies (ICTs) to engage with tourists, focusing on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which the Japanese government plans to attract. 40 million visitors
"One of the main projects within the GCP is the establishment of these automatic translation systems at various Olympic points," NICT's spokesman told Efe.
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According to data collected by the Ministry, a dozen languages, including Korean, Chinese and English, cover more than 90% of tourists visiting the country.
VoiceTra offers automatic voice translations between 30 different languages such as Japanese and most of them are spoken in Asia, Burma, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam or Mongolia.
For the 2020 Olympic Games, according to NICT, the purpose of this software is to play the role of translator in information points, internet access areas, stadiums and souvenir shops, among other places.
Although the agency can be used for all users and as a mobile application at no cost, the "basic way to promote VoiceTra" is through "distribution of licenses to companies".
"Of course, we are conducting experimental activities with local service providers." Said. But these are the ones that are responsible for the use of the software in the service industry by private companies that enable the organism to use VoiceTra by a quota.
. As a national institute, we focused on the development of centralized translation technology, “NICT collaborated with the ministry to compile the results and thereby improve the accuracy of the implementation.
VoiceTra, which is owned by the private sector, is included in various technological devices that enable the software to adapt to the context in which the interaction to be translated has been developed.
Panasonic and its "megahonyaku", a translator used at airports as well as the megaphone of Sourcenext Corporation and Pocketalk, a mobile translation device for tourists or Hitachi and Ruby Concierge, a tablet service navigating through public transport.
VoiceTra also uses VoiceBiz, a system developed by Japanese Toppan Printing, and Melon, which helps foreigners created by the multinational Konica-Minolta, and also uses some local authorities through medical clinics.
In a country accustomed to natural disasters, local fire departments have begun to implement this technology to assist tourists in emergency situations.
In 2019 fiscal year, the Ministry of Interior plans to expand the use of this technology, which will require an 820 million yen budget from the Ministry of Finance.