Amazon is looking to turn Alexa into the mother of all translators — a tool that could interpret natural language and even the subtitles of speech. So says a report from Yahoo Finance, which notes that Amazon is working on a way to turn Alexa into a real-time translator one that could let you understand another language, as it's spoken, or even give you the correct phrasing depending on your social situation.
Today, voice assistants can do simple translation tricks. Ask Siri how to say "thank you" in French and she'll come back with the appropriate "merci." But her language skills are limited to French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin Chinese. Alexa can tackle Japanese, and through Alexa Skills there are even more languages including Thai and Flemish. Swahili, though, is not in the mix.
But Amazon hopes to expand Alexa's ability to any device — and any situation — whether that's speaking Italian slang on the streets of Rome to knowing how to address a professor in Tokyo as opposed to your best friend.
Although Alexa is in tens of millions of devices, these are primarily smart home products, smart speakers like Echo and Echo Dot. People are unlikely to carry these with them on the go, which is where most people would need a translator. This new direction for Amazon will also need to include new devices to house Amazon's voice assistant as well.