Technology is an essential part of our society, one that we could not live without. Innovation over the last 10 years has seen the emergence of a vast array of advanced solutions, driving accessibility, data granularity and engagement. Technology has delivered groundbreaking developments in areas such as productivity, consumerism and education; however, there is little focus on how it has impacted languages, their use and development.
With technology continuously evolving, the world has become a much smaller place through digital connectivity. Technology has changed both the spoken and written word, and is slowly dominating the way in which we experience language through many aspects of society, from shopping to working.
Over time, languages naturally adapt to suit human developments; advances in technology, however, have accelerated the speed of change. Technology has encouraged the development of new words, new phrases, and new meanings for existing vocabulary. Due to new platforms for communicating in a digital age and the ease at which we can access technology, these new words and phrases have come into general use very quickly. As for international languages, the exposure to multilingual sites and the ease of basic translation technology on websites to make them accessible for all users means that the language barrier is gradually being broken down.
Certain advances in technology are now set to change and develop the language market quite dramatically, supporting multilingual accessibility, translation and interpretation bookings, tracking and monitoring features and localized functionality of digital content to suit the needs of a broad audience.
Exploring an augmented reality
Augmented reality (AR) is increasing in popularity as a teaching and learning method, particularly in terms of languages. AR allows a deeper level of interaction through a computer-generated perceptual environment, which is overlaid onto a ‘real-world’ environment. It allows the experience of multiple sensory modalities such as visual, auditory and haptic, all interwoven.
Although this technology has been around for some time, AR has more recently become particularly popular since the launch of the Pokémon Go app, where Pokémon characters appear in a real-life environment via a screen. This blurring of lines between real and digital environments opens the door to many creative opportunities.
AR has the potential to make a huge difference in the language industry. For example, by hovering over a specific part of an advertisement, services could be provided in a different language, geo-located to where the ad is viewed. This takes global marketing to another level, with an entirely new and unique experience. This could also work in an educational environment, where AR can introduce more sensory methods for teaching languages to suit different learning styles.
This way of learning is on the rise and is predicted to become more popular, as the technology becomes even more mainstream. For example, Google has released an app that enables you to point your phone at a sign and have it translated for you – as quick and easy as that! This technology is breaking down language barriers, streamlining travel and education, and producing engaging and interactive marketing.
Alexa, can you translate this?
Voice recognition technology enables interaction between a person and a machine through the recognition of spoken commands. This also is becoming a progressive method of advanced communication, and is likely to have a profound impact on the language industry, with services such as Alexa changing the way we interact with digital media. Voice-driven technology allows users to verbalize requests without a handheld device and can be used in homes and offices to aid productivity and speed.
With technology integrating so rapidly, large tech giants and smaller companies are collaborating to create interesting and innovative tools, such as the apps on Alexa, bringing voice technology to a wide range of business and social environments. With respect to languages in particular, Google Translate has developed to incorporate listening capabilities, rather than just text translation. Computer systems are increasingly becoming better at handling natural languages, and to an extent it could be argued that this is bringing back traditional, spoken methods of communication.
Language translation could become an even better and more popular experience with the rise of voice recognition. This could in turn bring about a rise in language learning, while also easing business and export opportunities as the multilingual functionalities of technology break down barriers through immediate translation tools, such as Alexa. The integration of technology with real-life experiences is sure to increase, along with related technologies such as virtual reality, further providing a highly immersive environment to engage, interact and provide services.
There is an abundance of opportunity for us in the language industry. With an in-house team of experts pioneering new ways to support our linguist network, integrate booking systems with existing company platforms, machine translation and translation memory technology, we can safely argue that technology is impacting languages in a positive way.