Google Splashes Out on Super Bowl Ad Focusing on Language

Genevieve Finn reports on the tech giant’s moves in machine translation and interpretation
Google is banking on its interpreter taking off
Google used one of its two valuable Super Bowl ad spots to show how Google Translate can help bring people together. According to CNBC, a Super Bowl LIII 30-second ad spot cost $5.25 million this year, so, with the minute-long advertisement, Google is investing heavily in its new, improved service.
According to Google, its service can translate
dozens of languages via photo, video, audio, and manual typing. At last month’s
Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the company revealed a new
feature in Google Assistant, called Interpreter Mode, which turns the virtual
assistant into a real-time language translator between two people who are
trying to converse in the same place.
The new feature was demonstrated to the press hours before the
CES show officially opened. In the
demo, a concierge at Caesar’s Palace Hotel, one of the early beta testers of
the feature, was approached by a “German tourist” and asked about show tickets
in German. The concierge turned to a Google Home Hub and, using voice, prompted
the Assistant to go into German interpreter mode. The concierge and guest had a
conversation, with the Assistant translating, and tickets were found.
The Super Bowl ad consisted of several short clips that
showed Google Translate doing just that—translating, while a narrator
proclaimed, “More than 100 billion words are translated every day.”
“Words about food, words about friendship, about sport,
about belief, about fear,” the narrator said, over videos of women laughing in
a coffee shop and men celebrating a soccer goal in a sports bar.
“Words that can hurt, and sometimes divide,” the narrator
continued as a video of the words “GET OUT” spray painted on a brick wall
played. “But every day, the most translated words in the world are: ‘How are
you?,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘I love you,’” he finished. The final shot featured two
men holding hands and hugging under an umbrella while looking out over a foggy,
green vista.
Google’s message rings against the backdrop of political
polarity and accusations of “fake news.” The idea that people use language to
express love more than they use it to express hate is a heartwarming appeal to
forget differences and forgive. It is particularly relevant given the link
between how Google’s search engine directs internet traffic and the escalation
of divisive rhetoric.
The advertisement also marks the uptick in the need for
quick translation services in an increasingly globalized world. The ad showed
how Google Translate can be integrated into daily life through mobile phones
with ease. Though this may be troubling to some, the advertisement presented
the idea that marrying language and technology is not only possible, but
positive.


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