VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images Robin Li Yanhong, co-founder and chief executive officer of Baidu Inc., speaks during the opening ceremony of 2018 China International Energy-saving and New Energy Vehicles Exhibition (IEEVChina) at China National Convention Center on October 18, 2018 in Beijing, China.

Baidu’s AI-based Tool Translates Sentences with Almost No Lag

Internet giant Baidu unveiled an AI-powered tool on Wednesday to translate English into Chinese and German in real time, in move to challenge a rival product from Google.

Many translation services online allow users to say or write a sentence, but users must wait a few seconds for a translation. In contrast, Baidu’s so-called simultaneous translation tool allows sentences to be translated almost instantly — much like a digital version of what interpreters do. The product is a breakthrough for Baidu which has been investing heavily in AI for the past few years.

Voice technology is seen as a major battleground for tech giants Amazon, Apple and Alphabet’s Google. Baidu trained its AI on two million pairs of English and Chinese sentences, Liang Huang, principal scientist at Baidu, told CNBC by phone on Wednesday. This has allowed Baidu’s digital interpreter to do near real-time translation from two languages that have very different sentence structures.

“We train our system to predict the English side given the Chinese side prefix,” Huang told CNBC.

Baidu is China’s largest search engine, which compares to Google elsewhere. Its latest product arrives a year after Google released Pixel Buds, a set of wireless headphones that it claims can do live translation.

The article was written by Arjun Kharpal for Huang said Baidu is looking to integrate the AI interpreter into its Wi-Fi translator, a product it unveiled earlier this year which is both a portable internet hub and translator. The company will also use the technology to translate speeches at its annual Baidu World Conference on November 1 in Beijing.