Delivering a Fair Advantage
Great performance is rooted in talent. When we talk about our favourite albums we’re more likely to highlight the musicianship than the sound engineering. When we talk about our favourite live performances it’s the singing that stays with us, not the quality of the microphone. But if you unplug the microphone, we won’t hear the singing.
The Tokyo Olympics gave us many great performances, and some astonishing ones. Each of them was rooted in talent and commitment, but it would be naïve to ignore the advantages available to elite athletes. We’re not talking about performance-enhancing substances. We’re talking about performance-enhancing technology.
Five years ago the “super shoe” was introduced to road runners. It was lighter and more flexible, with a cushioned sole and a thicker heel. At the Rio Olympics all three medallists in the men’s marathon wore versions of it, and the elite athletes who’ve adopted it since then have seen their race times improve by an average of 2%. For the world’s best marathon runners, than means finishing two and a half minutes faster. It’s the difference between winning gold and eating dust. In 2019 we saw the same focus applied to track shoes, and once again the results were jaw-dropping. In Tokyo last week Karsten Warholm of Norway ran 45.94 for the 400 metres hurdles, cutting almost a second off the men’s world record. The athletes who took silver and bronze behind him also broke that previous record, and all three wear super-shoes. Eliud Kipchoge, who took marathon gold yesterday, also reaped the benefits of advanced healthcare technology. Kipchoge uses a biosensor that updates him on his body’s glucose levels in real time, tracks how this affects his performance and helps him make the small adjustments that can be the difference between success and failure. In a sport that’s too often been tarnished by those who break the rules in search of an unfair advantage, it’s refreshing to see elite athletes acting entirely within the rules and embracing technology to bring out the best in themselves.
For professionals seeking a fair advantage, the right technology partners are always ready to deliver, and we always respect the individuality and talent of the people we’re supporting. Just as the shoe manufacturers and biotech pioneers who work with Eliud Kipchoge know their products are elevating the performance of a phenomenal athlete, we at XTM International recognise that our translation management system is the tool that enables gifted linguists and project managers to achieve excellence in localization.
Language is an innately human phenomenon, but given enough data to work with, AI can predict relationships between words with a high degree of accuracy. Working towards this goal, Google developed Vector Space, a technique that assigned words with mathematical values describing the word itself and its relationship with words surrounding it. This calculation of relationships fills in significant gaps, telling us, for example, that the relationship “bark” has with “dog” probably mirrors the relationship “miaow” has with “cat”. Google’s work was ground-breaking, but since the Vector Space for a given language was only applicable to that language, it had limited value.
XTM International took it one stage further. By harnessing appropriate bilingual data for two languages, we were able to make calculations for translations between them. Thus Inter-language Vector Space (ILVS) was born. Using vast amounts of online data for reference, ILVS calculates the probability of a given target language word being the correct translation of a source word for over 250 language pairs. This product, unique to XTM International, delivers a decisive advantage to translators, project managers and localization teams in all industries.
It’s always good to see people playing by the rules and winning. When we watched Karsten Warholm and Eliud Kipchoge pursuing and achieving excellence in Japan last week, it was pleasing to reflect that their hard work and talent had been supplemented by ground-breaking use of technology. We take similar pleasure in XTM Cloud users telling us about the time and money they save, the brand consistency they maintain and the business growth they achieve thanks to our translation management system. It’s satisfying to deliver a fair advantage.