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M’sian couldn’t understand work meetings in Mandarin, made a DIY real time translator

M’sian couldn’t understand work meetings in Mandarin, made a DIY real time translator

Living in a melting pot of cultures and languages is both a
gift and a curse…

How many times have you sat down clueless in work meetings because your colleagues keep switching languages faster than Bruce Lee’s punches?

Trust us, you’re not alone.

Twitter user Roshen Maghan (@roshenmaghhan) also faced a similar conundrum during casual work meetings where half the time most of his colleagues would converse in Mandarin.

Before we jump to conclusions, Roshen DID request that they speak in English and they DID oblige, but would eventually slip back into Mandarin. Roshen believes it’s unintentional and assures that they’re all very nice.

So, instead of complaining loudly on social media 👀, he decided to do something about it and share his solution on Twitter.

He made a real time translator!

The inspiration for this creation came from Google Pixel Buds that can convert any language in real time.

He couldn’t afford the nearly RM800 price tag, so he decided to MAKE it instead!

First, he went to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website to get the hardware breakdown.

Screenshot from FCC News

Then, he turned his attention to the software, purchasing the API key from the developer’s website.

According to Roshen, you could train an AI to do your translation, but that would take a lot of time, power and is extremely tedious. So, just use what’s already available, Google Translate’s API.

In case you don’t understand tech speak, API stands for Application Programming Interface. It’s the “go-between” that lets two software applications “talk” to each other. We’re going to leave this video below if you need a better explanation:

With his real time translator, Roshen wanted to make sure that it would work on every software platform like Android, iOS and Desktop AND with any earphone with a microphone, wireless or not.

After he got the translation done, the next step is to make sure the translated words are voiced out and the user can hear it through the earphones.

He skips over a couple of steps on his Twitter thread to spare us the confusing technical details, but he did it! A product that can translate any language in real time, similar to the Google Pixel.


He’s done it, he’s fulfilled his goal. But Roshen didn’t just stop there.

He thought if he could translate ALL speeches to text in real time and include voice differentiation, deaf people can also be included in a conversation. They can read the translated text as the conversation is going on and not get left out.

FYI, the transcript feature for the deaf uses voice recognition algorithms which he developed himself, integrated with NLU & NLG (chatbots). He also developed the voice diarization to differentiate each voice.

You’d think it ends here right? Nope.

This fella keeps going on, adding another feature where the application checks every word in the conversation and recognises topics. If you click on the topic (it’s highlighted), it’ll give you a quick summary of the entire topic. Walao weyh!

However, Roshen admits that his application isn’t perfect. Accuracy of voice translation is about 90% while voice diarization is about 60%.

STILL. This dude is impressive!

He ends his Twitter thread with this message:

We’re not the only one impressed, okay. His tweets have gone viral with nearly 10,000 retweets at the time of writing. Twitterjaya has lauded the man for his creative solution to an everyday Malaysian problem.

This isn’t Roshen’s first foray into making cool contraptions though. He’s created his own version of Google Home, made with his own AI (named Caroline) to automate objects in his home.

AND also made an augmented reality (AR) pocket-sized project holder.

Now, where can we buy his stuff? We have a, um…. friend who needs this.


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