June 25, 2014 | By Mike Dano – AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) today launched a new language translation service for Spanish and Chinese speakers through a new partnership with startup Muuzii. The service starts at $2.99 per month and allows users to send texts in either Spanish or Chinese and have the messages sent back to them translated into English.
The service, powered by Muuzii, is promoted as providing “real-time, free-form, accurate translations in seconds.”
Cindy Davis, Muuzii’s CMO, explained to FierceWireless that the company started working with AT&T in 2011 and inked a master licensing agreement with the carrier to launch the service. The company will offer two plans through AT&T:
- Muuzii Message, which costs $2.99 per month and will be billed to a subscriber’s AT&T bill. The service allows users to send a text message to a short code and have it returned in text in English.
- Muuzii Speak, which costs $3.99 per month and will be billed to a subscriber’s AT&T bill. The service allows users to send a text message to a short code and have it returned in both text and an audio file in English.
“We’re not an app. As you know, the carriers don’t make any money from apps,” Davis explained. Instead, she said, the service runs through AT&T’s network and is available to any phone–including feature phones–that can send text messages.
Davis said Muuzii and AT&T will jointly promote the service. She said the company is working to ink agreements with other U.S. wireless carriers. And to generate interest in its service, she said the company will return free translations to anyone who texts to 95997 through July 15 as part of a World Cup promotion.
AT&T’s new partnership with Muuzii is just one of the carrier’s speech recognition and translation efforts. AT&T has long promoted its Watson speech recognition service, and more recently added language translation services to the technology. Watson is now available to developers via an API–AT&T in 2012 released its AT&T Translator app, powered by Watson, for free for iOS and Android devices. AT&T Translator “recognizes English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, French, German and Italian. It automatically recognizes which language is being spoken and translates in real time,” AT&T said.
Eric Fang, Muuzii’s CEO, said AT&T’s Watson is one of a number of translation engines that Muuzii could use–he said the company’s technology is designed to run on whatever the best translation service is for a given language. For example, he said the translation engine powering the company’s Chinese translations is different from the one powering Spanish translations.
AT&T’s Watson and Muuzii aren’t the only companies targeting the translation space. Google Translate, Odyssey Translator and others offer similar services.