No need to learn the language

New translation technology developed by Haifa-based company allows people speaking different languages to converse.

December 28, 2011 17:58
2 minute read.
illustrative photo of people using Lexifone

People on a phone 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Michael J. Mintz writes for No Camels.

Haifa-based company called Lexifone is releasing its star product December, “an advanced automatic interpretation/translation software, all without the need for an Internet connection or even a Smartphone.”

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Lexifone’s technology allows people to have regular conversations, in different languages. When one party speaks, what they say is automatically translated into the other person’s language and vice versa.

The service will begin with English, Spanish and Italian and the company plans on rolling out many more languages in the near future such as French, German, Portuguese, and major East Asian languages like Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.

Lexifone differs from other similar software in a variety of ways. Unlike Smartphone apps like Google Translate, Lexifone does not require an internet connection. All that is needed is a standard telephone connection either through mobile, landline or VoiP. It also allows for continuous automatic translation, which most applications cannot do.

The technology works through Lexifone’s own computer servers, which run a sophisticated speech recognition software that understands and speaks a variety of languages using a collection of “voice dictionaries.” The service is activated by first calling into the Lexifone server and then connecting to the person you want to call.

“The beauty [of Lexifone] is that the technology is separate from the user experience – often you have to adapt yourself to a technology, but here the tech is behind the scenes. You just talk and you get an answer,” says Forest Rain Marcia, Lexifone’s Director of Marketing Communications, who proudly states that she herself does not own or need a Smartphone.


Lexifone was initially trying to appeal to businesses that want to expand their clientele, but the company realized that their product could help people and organizations of all kinds – including international call centers or health and municipal services.

Marcia claims that through Lexifone, “there is no language gap anymore because everyone stays in their own language.”

Lexifone picks up on different dialects or speech impediments, Marcia says. “The technology takes into account a range of different accents within a language, but one must speak naturally.” Lexifone also offers the option of verifying if a statement was understood correctly.

Lexifone was originally founded as the brainchild of entrepreneur and CEO Dr. Ike Sagie while at a technology incubator in Haifa, who combined his passionate interests of technology, linguistics, and economics.

“At Lexifone we put people in the center. It’s all about communication. And an easy, effective user experience. They go hand in hand,” says Sagie.

The price for the service depends on whether one is providing for individual or group use although official prices have yet to be released.

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