Fuji Xerox’s Copy-and-Translate Machine

The joint venture partnership Fuji Xerox has introduced a prototype copier machine that can translate scanned Japanese text documents into Chinese, Korean and English. The machine, currently on display only in Japan, can perform the translation between the supported languages without altering the original format of the source page.

The new device uses special algorithms to distinguish text from drawings, lines, and diagrams that may appear on the source page. By networking the printer to a dedicated translation server and using software that can detect separate words in the text, Fuji Xerox’s device translates the documents “on-the-fly” at a touch of a button. Once the text is translated, the photocopier prints out the page in the requested language and in the same exact layout as the original document.

One of the main challenges in computerized translation programs has always been the inaccuracy of the translations. Many online translators, such as AltaVista Babel Fish, rely on a dictionary database and translate the text word-by-word, resulting in funny and grammatically incorrect translations. A number of experts have expressed their skepticism regarding the possibility that this new translator will produce translations of a significantly higher quality than those of the machine-translation (MT) software used today.

However, if this invention proves to work well, it could be especially helpful to people who work regularly with multiple languages. It may also provide a new and easy communication channel between businesses located in the East and West. This unique photocopier is still in the prototype phase, and the company hasn’t yet indicated when a commercial version will be launched and at what price range.

Image: FujuXerox machine (Credit: Fuji Xerox Co.).

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