Over the years, I have actually tagged quite a few of my articles with the keyword “patent” and I am no fan of patent war. So I am happy to read “Samsung says Apple lifted iPad from Kubrick’s 2001“. Apparently Samsung is trying to use Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001, in particular the following YouTube video as an example of prior art!
What is Jibbigo?
Jibbigo is a “speech-to-speech translation app for your mobile device. You talk in one language, it talks back in the other. [...] No data charges required–just your voice. Jibbigo is available in eight different language pairs on iTunes and the Android Market.“
Apple iPad app: ”Jibbigo ” (link to iTune)
Price: US$ 24.99
Star rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
*** Background ***
Machine translation is a very difficult problem even for desktop/large computers. I see translation in three levels of difficulties, beginning with the hard problem of text-to-text translation, then speech-to-text translation, and the toughest one is speech-to-speech translation (the one Jibbigo tries to do). Why? Because speech-to-speech translation requires,
1) the original (e.g. English/Chinese) human voice be recognized and converted correctly into (English/Chinese) text;
2) the translation of recognized text into target language text (Chinese/English) be performed correctly (very hard in itself); and
3) the translated target text being read out in the target language correctly (should be easier but not always as you will see here).
I’ve spent days and many hours testing and exploring the Jibbigo iPad app (feeling like testing software in one of my previous jobs). The following is my review plus an edited video highlighting some of the tests I’ve conducted.
*** The Good/OK ***
* Translation of simple greetings (“Good morning.”, “Good Afternoon.” etc) were done correctly most of the time.
* Some simple English sentences were picked up and translated to Chinese correctly.
(e.g. “How much?” ==> “多少钱？”; “How about two million five hundred thousand dollars?” was translated to “2500000美元怎样？” (note: ; 2500000 was read as 2 million, 500 thousands); “Do you have orange juice?” ==> “有橙汁吗？”; “I live in Canada.” ==> “我住在加拿大。”)
* Jibbigo allows user to enter names and their Chinese translations. For example, I entered my name Kempton and my name in Chinese. Jibbigo was able to recognize my name “Kempton” in English and translated it to Chinese. Unfortunately, Jibbigo failed to pronounce my Chinese name correctly. More on this in the next section.
* Some simple sentences were translated somewhat correctly.
(e.g. “What time do I need to get up in the morning?” was translated to “我想要什么时候起床？” The translation missed the word “morning” “早晨/早上” and confused “need to” with “想要” (the word for “wish to”).
“Where can I rent a car?” was translated to “我在哪能租车吗？” . This Chinese translation is understandable but a better one may be “我在哪里可以租到车？” since the “吗” at the end is not really necessary. And being the picky me, I think “哪里可以” is stylistically better than “哪能”.
* To “protect” the user :), Jibbigo won’t display or translate profanities. So if you said “F*ck off!”, the Jibbigo will show it detected/picked up “<beep> off.” and actually create a beep and display “<beep>.” instead of doing any Chinese translation!
*** The Bad/Not-so-good ***
* The simple sentence of “Do you have steak?” was translated to the non-sensical “你有排怎么做？” instead of the correct one of “你有牛排吗？”.
* “I am having steak for dinner.” was incorrectly translated to “我的牛排吗。”, missing the word/idea of “dinner” and adding the question word “吗” for no good reason. A better translation may be “我的晚餐是牛排。” or ”我吃牛排晚餐。”
* “The machine part number is 123456789.” was translated to “这个机器号码是123456789分。” The last word “分” is not needed and indeed confusing and misleading.
* “How much is your machine?” was badly translated to “你是多少钱？” meaning “How much are YOU?” Jibbigo missed the important word of “machine”. A better translation is “你的机器是多少钱？”
* “I need it next month.” was incorrectly translated to “我需要它。” missing the translation for “next month”. A better translation may be “我下个月需要它。”
* I think this one may be tough but important to crack. Jibbigo has problems with proper nouns. e.g. “China Airlines.” was translated to “中国航空公司。” when the proper Chinese name for this Taiwan-based airline is “中華航空公司”. Imagine, someone at the airport trying to fly “中国航空公司” and being told there is no such airline!
* “How about two million Canadian dollars?” was badly translated to “加2500000美元吗？”, misplacing the word “加” (for Canada?) and missing the fact that it is “Canadian dollars” and not US dollars “美元”. The correct translation should be ”2500000加元怎样？”
* When the Chinese tester said hello and her Chinese name (which was entered into Jibbigo), the app picked up, “你好。我交换怀孕。” and translated the words to, “Hello. I am exchange.” Jibbigo goofed badly because “交换” and “怀孕” are the words for “exchange” and “pregnant”, very far off from her name!
* “Bee” was translated as “啤酒”, the words for “beer”! The correct Chinese words for bee are “蜜蜂”.
* And for some strange reason, Jibbigo failed to translate the following list of words when they were said individually. “Talk, Speak, Speaking, Love, Month,
*** Software stability problems and errors ***
* When iPad went into sleep/auto-lock mode (I set my iPad to go to sleep in 5 minutes) while Jibbigo is running, it will crash and will fail to record voice/function properly when the iPad is woken up.
*** Concluding comments ***
As a computer geek and someone who wants to see Jibbigo‘s technology working, I am disappointed to find Jibbigo failed to work as advertised. Based on my extensive testing, I cannot recommend Jibbigo. And as one Jibbigo user commented in his review, “I wouldn’t dare use this on a trip for fear of getting laughed at or smacked!“. To be truthful, I don’t think he was being excessively harsh.
I think the Jibbigo English to Chinese translation app development team needs to spend some time in resolving the various translation and stability problems in the current version of the software (Jan 21, 2011, Version 1.12226). I wish the Jibbigo team the best of luck.
P.S. The user can choose one of two language pairs, “English International <==> Chinese” or “English USA/Canada <==> Chinese”, I picked Canadian English.
I am excited to report the really cool Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross app is,
Congrats Matthew, really happy for you and your team!
Aug 19, 2010 update: Pedlar Lady is Apple iPad App of the week for US & Canada
Matthew got the idea to develop an iPad app right after watching Steve Jobs first demoed the iPad online (in late Jan 2010). After watching Jobs’ demo, Matthew concluded Jobs “didn’t really have the killer app” for iPad and demoed uses were things people could already do with their computers. Soon after the Jobs’ demo, Matthew took one of his animation projects (one previously pitched as a short film) and pitched it again, but this time as an iPad app. And Matthew was able to quickly find an interested Vancouver investor. A note to creative people out there: sometimes your prior creative ideas/efforts can generate result in unexpected places at a later time, you never know if you keep your eyes open.
Pedlar Lady is a story based on an 800 years old poem and this story has many variants around the world. Matthew turned to his partner Jacqueline Rogers and asked her to write and transform the story into a story telling text that is playful, magical, dynamic and alive at the same time. The time it took to create the iPad app is hard to determine because it included a long process of research & development to figure out what are possible or not possible in the current iOS software development kit 4. There are more technical discussions in the video interview.
The animation artists involved int app development are experienced 3D or 2D animators, so animated objects are 3 dimensional and are in prospective. Take a look of the included promotional clip to see what the animations in the app looks like.
The creation of the Pedlar Lady was the beautiful result of an international effort with Matthew and his partner based in Gibson, BC and other collaborators working from Ireland, New Brunswick, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, South Africa, London, Mexico, Peru, Finland, etc.
The following are the videos of my interesting Skype video chat with Matthew. Enjoy.
Here is a promotional clip of “The Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross” iPad app
Aug 19, 2010 update: Pedlar Lady is Apple iPad App of the week for US & Canada
“The Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross” is a beautifully designed cinematic iPad storytelling app published by Moving Tales. Make sure you check out the enclosed promotional clip of the Pedlar Lady app so you can see some samples of the beautifully rendered images/animations.
Apple iPad app: ”The Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross“
Price: US$ 4.99
Star rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
* Beautifully and cinematically 3D rendered moving images that go along well with an engaging story. Matthew Talbot-Kelly, producer and director of the iPad app, is also a very experienced animator and you can totally tell from the stunning animations. Even the “cover” of the story app contains a 3D fly through to the Pedlar Lady’s house. (see clip)
* Beautifully recorded sound effects and narration.
* Users can also select the Spanish text and Spanish narration option. And the Spanish narration also sounds great. Potentially a great tool to teach children Spanish.
* The narration can be turned off so the story can be read by a parent or grandparent out loud with the sound effects playing in the background.
I subtracted 0.5 star for the following:
* At the moment, the app doesn’t have interactive elements. Some of the pages (e.g. one page has many bottles hanging on the tree) are perfect candidates for adding interactive elements for user to touch/move and make sound or interact. (According to Moving Tales, this combination is technically not possible yet.)
* As part of this review, I discovered and reported a bug that stops the animations. Restarting the app may fix the problem, and rebooting the iPad should fix it. I’ve reported the conditions that can trigger this bug to Matthew, he has promised a bug fix and possibly some additional enhancements in the next update. (see my Skype video interview with Matthew).
[latest update from Matthew: a bug fixed version (v 1.01) was submitted to the app store last week, they are now waiting for Apple to approve it.]
[Aug 16, 2010 Update: version v 1.01 has been approved by Apple. The above identified bug has been fixed. Added new sound effects. Improved application stability.]
Highly recommended. Great experience for much less than the price of almost all children books. Moving Tales, a Gibson BC based Canadian company, has done a wonderful job in creating a Cinematic iPad storytelling app for all to enjoy. Of local interest, the iPad app programming for the Pedlar Lady is done by a Calgary based programmer.
The official site of Moving Tales says it well, “How does Moving Tales bring stories to life?
- sophisticated 3D animation on every page
- original music, voice over and sound effects
- animate the text using the iPad’s accelerometer
- Cover Flow-like navigation
- page swipe or tap for page turning
- auto page turning option
- sound effects only sound option
- compelling narrative
- randomly selected alternate views and extras to ensure no two viewings alike
- sophisticated and dynamic typographic layout
- evocative poetic language
- Spanish option—choose to hear and display the story in Spanish as well as English”
After resisting for a few months, I finally went out to buy an Apple iPad last Friday despite my stated reservations about Apple. A friend and I both originally had reservations about missing features in the iPad (e.g. not having two cameras) but we both ended up buying it. Another friend actually bought 3 fully loaded iPads (32G & 3G) one for each member of her family and later her dad received another as a gift so there are four iPads!
Stay tune for my first iPad app review.
Reuters reports “India has come up with the world’s cheapest “laptop,” a touch-screen computing device that costs $35.” (1,500 rupees, or about US$35)
From cNet “India’s $35 tablet–how low can it go?“
WSJ Blog, “Going for Cheap: India’s $35 Computer“
Here is a video about the prototype,
At the 2010 Calgary Stampede, I surprised myself by test driving the latest GM Cadillac SRX. My better half wanted to see how it feels like to ride in a Cadillac (more on our drive later) plus it didn’t hurt that we got a pair of Stampede Grandstand Show tickets for free for test driving.
The test drive slightly improved our opinion of GM/Cadillac but, in our case, not enough for us to want to consider it when it is time to buy our next car.
After the test drive, I walked up to talk to Gord from the Toronto-based Automative Driving Solutions (Gord was one of the guys who helped started the GM test drive programs 5 years ago (Mall Tours and CNE Test drives). As Gord put it, the purpose of the test drive program is to put “bums on the seats”. And a 5% conversion rate from test drives to buying the vehicles later is pretty good.
After the test drive, we had to fill in a survey on an iPad to get our free show tickets. While there are things that I don’t like about the iPad (missing front and back cameras, Apps Store limitations, etc), I think a bunch of wirelessly connected iPads is a simple and powerful solution to collect customer survey data. They are so slick, thin and light so you don’t even need a table if you want to do survey on the street.
Check out Jeff”s take on the iPad which he reboxed and returned to Apple.
P.S. Thanks to Jeff mentioning about Cory’s comment. I’ve now looked up this comment by Cory Doctorow and confirmed something I tried to block subconsciously when I was simply looking at the excitement of iPad. But Cory is right in writing,
“But the company that sells you your dishwasher doesn’t get to tell you which dishes you’re allowed to use. They don’t get to sue companies that make dishes that might possibly be loaded into the dishwasher. They don’t get to sue you for figuring out how to cook salmon in your dishwasher. They don’t get to sue O’Reilly if it publishes a recipe for dishwasher salmon.
Apple’s DRM isn’t useless. It is performing its function perfectly: scaring off innovators and sources of capital for innovation that seek to work outside its monopoly. To miss this is to miss everything.” [via Cory]
P.P.S. I will be reading this Cory piece later, “Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t either)“
P.P.P.S. When presented with a choice of iPhone & some fun vs a locked-in three year contract, I decided to go with WIND Mobile. I guess my business/rational mind wins over my urge to have fun. :)
iPad, iPad: Are you a toy or “business toy“? This is the question I am asking myself in the last few days. A toy is something I don’t need (at my age) but may be nice to have. A “business toy” is one I should get because it may make me some money one day. So it is a toy that is good for business.
May be I should wait 5 minutes and then get iPad 2.0 with the cameras (yes, two cameras). Or may be I should wait to see if I should give the HP Slate a try?
“[...] Yeah, I got an iPad [...] I have to say that I’m surprised by how much I love the damn thing. Over the past few months, I refrained from publicly join the chorus of naysayers who pre-emptively dismissed Apple’s God tablet as just an iPod Touch on steroids; I secretly harbored the same suspicion, but decided to wait and see.
[...] On Saturday, there were 360,576 tweets name-checking the iPad. This morning Apple revealed that it sold over 300,000 iPads on Saturday
[...] Apple itself scored 121,135 tweets on Saturday
[...] iPad users downloaded more than 1 million apps from the App Store and more than 250,000 e-books [...] on Saturday, according to Apple.”
iPad Teardown from iFixit (full text report & details). Also see “Samsung, LG Display parts found in Apple iPad News sends shares of the two Korean techs higher” from Marketwatch.
For the record and some links, “Kleiner Perkins’ Doubles Down The iFund To $200 Million For the iPad“.
Needham iPad sales forecast revised from 4 down to 2 million – “If you have to forecast, forecast often.”Thursday, 4 February, 2010
It is amazing to read this WSJ post “Apple iPad: Analyst Tones Down Excitement over Device“,
In a note entitled “Seeing is Believing” — their previous note was subtitled “Apple has Another Winner — Needham revised its original forecast of four million iPad sales in the year following the device’s April launch. “We’re now forecasting iPad sales of two million units in fiscal 2010 and six million in 2011. Our forecast assumes that over half of iPad sales come at the expense of the iPod touch.” Needham analysts said they revised their call “after watching a replay of Apple’s iPad introduction and reassessing the device’s potential.”
Reminds me of this quote in quotes I love,
“If you have to forecast, forecast often.”
- Edgar R. Fiedler in “Across the Board: The Three Rs of Economic Forecasting — Irrational, Irrelevant and Irreverent”
May 4th, 2010 Update: ““One million iPads in 28 days—that’s less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.” – iPad comfortably beats iPhone to 1 million mark – Can other OEMs grab some of the success?
Chief executive Steve Jobs announced the device — basically a supersized iPod Touch — on Wednesday to a crowd of Apple faithful at an event in San Francisco. The iPad is about the size of a hardcover book, half an inch thick and with a 9.7-inch multi-touch screen, similar to the iPod Touch and iPhone. The device can surf the web using its Safari browser, send emails via an on-screen QWERTY keypad, play music, videos and games, and display e-books.
Why will Apple iPad “FAIL”?
For this reporter, the biggest (yes, biggest) disappointment is the fact it doesn’t have a camera (in fact, it needs two cameras). Apple unfortunately may have underestimated how much people are attached to their camera and video camera.
It is puzzling to think why Apple decided to not put the ubiquitous little circle thingy (also known as the tiny camera lens) right on the front and back of the iPad? Was it for cost reason? Or was it a power reason? Or was it for space? If you have a theory, please help.
Unfortunately, for this reporter, iPad without cameras is a “deal breaker“. A reporter in the new digital age without a camera & video camera just doesn’t cut it any more.
Why will Apple iPad “WIN”?
You can’t really beat the US$499 price. As a brand new and innovative product from Apple, a $499 price tag may attract many iPhone users to try the iPad and expand the reach of Apple products into people’s home and office. Now, comparing to iPad, other ebook readers now look like a piece of “beep”. (smile)
The iPad will be nice to use to surf web, do emails, and watch movies, and some light applications (iWorks and Page for presentation). But it will not be a machine that can do heavy duty video editing and complex Photoshop operations, etc for sure.
Some buying advices.
If you are one of those that must have all the new gadgets to play with and to show your friends, hey, the price tag is only $499, go ahead, line up to buy it and play with it and have some fun.
But if you do care about value for money and don’t mind waiting a bit for a better iteration, then wait a few months or a year for the second or third iterations.
As always with technologies, buy what you need and can use NOW. If you buy for future needs, then you will be paying a lot more than you need now because those newer and faster technologies will be cheaper in a year or two (aka “the future”).
Here is a video news clip showing off the iPad.
Jan 28 Update: Good post “8 Things That Suck About the iPad“, and I agree with all eight reasons, yikes! I will add “No Multitasking” and “No HDMI Out” and “No Flash” plus “A Closed App Ecosystem” to my list.
Massive hype sometimes has a price. And looks like Apple is paying for it today.