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Amazon Plans to Release Machine Translation Service

In a report released on Monday, Jordan Novet of CNBC published that Amazon plans to release translation services to third-party developers later this year.

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He stated that developers would gain access to AWS machine translation services to utilize in their apps and websites.

Most readers are probably not aware as it was not big news at the time, but Amazon acquired a company called Safaba about two years ago.

Safaba Translation Systems LLC was founded in 2009 by Alon Lavie. He was a research professor at the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

At the time Amazon acquired his company, Mr. Lavie’s company was already providing clients with automated translation services for websites, marketing materials, software products and customer communications. In other words, his company had done much work to allow Amazon to have a head-start in machine translation.

Upon purchase, Amazon renamed the company to Amazon Machine Translation R&D Group, and Alon Lavie stayed on to lead the group.

CNBC citing sources familiar with the matter, Amazon is likely to roll out the AWS translation service at its annual re:invent conference in Las Vegas.


Amazon acknowledged already that it is using the technology internally on product descriptions and documents.

The company is also working with Germany’s Heidelberg University to host a new competition at the Workshop on Machine Learning that showcases incorporating customer feedback submissions to improve translation results.


The report did not mention any integration with Amazon’s eCommerce operations yet.

Since the company is using the service internally, it would make sense for this feature to become available sometime in the future to marketplace sellers.

Ideally, it would require no additional work by the seller, and the core Amazon site would just translate the entire product description on demand. That would be the ultimate benefit.

Another interesting aspect is translation integration with Alexa. Google Assistant already offers voice translation to other languages, so integrating translation services into Alexa would be a natural progression.

Moreover, since Amazon is always about eCommerce innovation and Alexa is becoming smarter, voice translation integration for shopping may be another feature available in the future for marketplace sellers.

Voice translation integration into eCommerce is likely a bit more difficult and would require a bit of development. But it would be fantastic to see.

In conclusion, machine translation done right can be a big win for Amazon and Amazon marketplace sellers.

What are your thoughts on AI product description translations? Leave us your comment below.

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