• 08/14/2013
    11:15 AM
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Facebook Speech Recognition: 4 Predictions

Facebook's acquisition of Mobile Technologies suggests translation and speech recognition might be coming soon. Here's how users and brands could benefit.

The problem with a speech-to-text capability is its accuracy, Etlinger said. With a global audience, Facebook needs the ability to accurately understand accents.

2. Translation Capabilities For Users.

Mobile Technologies' translation capability can be a really important feature for Facebook, which continues to expand its global presence. Connecting users who don't speak the same language supports Facebook's mission to be more open and connected.

"I have Facebook friends who post in Japanese and sometimes I can intuit it from pictures or emoticons, but I don't know what they're saying," Etlinger said. "Removing that language barrier would be huge."

Etlinger says she can see Facebook launching an automatic-translation feature for both your posts and posts in your news feed.

3. Translation Capabilities For Brands.

Perhaps most valuable for Facebook would be offering brands the ability to translate their posts to different languages to better reach global audiences, Eglinger said. Not only does this have positive customer satisfaction implications for brands, but it's a plus for advertisers, too.

"If it works well enough, you can see businesses getting very excited about not having to do as much work," she said. "If you're a multinational company, the idea of being able to create one post and translate it to every language is valuable. Cost is something that would have prevented them from doing that before. The idea that you can remove some of that friction is interesting."

4. Better Social Media Monitoring For Brands.

Social media monitoring is essential to brands for reputation management. The ability to translate public posts -- especially in conjunction with new features such as Graph Search and hashtags -- makes it easier for brands to understand public sentiment, Etlinger said.

This would be a value add for many brands, especially if Facebook can improve the accuracy of translations. Traditional social media monitoring tools are notorious for translation inaccuracies, Etlinger said. These tools have a 60% to 65% accuracy in translating the English language, but that rate drops to just 20% for languages like Japanese, which is ideogram-based, she said.

How Facebook integrates its newest acquisition into its product will be interesting, Etlinger said. "There's a lot of dreaming we could do about what Facebook will do, but if its history predicts its future, we'll probably see something out not too long from now."

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