Carnegie Mellon's Alex Waibel is the rock star behind a hot app that is breaking language barriers and promoting international understanding.
Going overseas and don't know the language? Jibbigo
will assist you in carrying on a conversation. Speak (or type) the words into the phone and instantly communicate with another as naturally as the spoken word. The app is bi-directional, allowing for a two-way dialogue in one of five languages.
And unlike any other translation app on the market, it doesn't require an Internet connection. The $25 download gives you access to a 40,000 word vocabulary in English, Spanish, Japanese and most recently Chinese and Iraqi. Users can add new words too. Jibiggo is available on the iPhone
, but Android and Nexus versions are coming soon.
Waibel and his team at the International Center for Advanced Communication Technologies
(interACT) spent 20 years working to perfect the algorithms to operate the seamless technology.
"About a year ago it became clear that we had to push the engineering because the technology was reaching a level to make it feasible," says Waibel, director of interACT and founder of Mobile Technologies, the spinout company.
Mobile Technologies has an office in Murraysville and a technical team of 10. The company has two engineering offices in addition to Pittsburgh in Karlsruhe, Germany, and Mountain View, CA. Waibel has been globe-trotting between the offices ever since the app launched last year.
"Our original motivation was the humanitarian use of this technology," says Waibel. "Especially for doctors and police departments. We're happy if it helps average people like us."
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Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Alex Waibel, Mobile Technologies