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This human-powered SMS translator requires no app and no smartphone

Muuzii allows North American users to translate words and phrases from different languages within seconds using their mobile phones. It's not an app, and you don't have to own a smartphone to use it.

Muuzii offers two services. With Muuzii Message, you can quickly tap out a text message of whatever you want to communicate, send it off, and get a message back instantly that has an accurate translation of what you said in either English, Spanish, or Chinese.

Muuzii Speak, on the other hand (which you will need a smartphone for), allows you to record whatever phrase you want to say and get the correct conversational translation right then and there. It's kind of like a multilingual Shazam, but without the music part.

So what makes it better than apps that do something similar?

Muuzii marries man and machine to produce superior translation results,Eric Fang, Founder and CEO of Muuzii said in an interview with VentureBeat. Unlike the wealth of mobile translation options flooding app stores, Muuzii isn't dependent on dictionaries that are restricted to a finite number of words.

In fact, a team of flesh-and-blood linguists stand by to review each translation prompt as soon as you send them off in real-time. Each team member makes sure that the response is not only accurate, but also the best way to get your message across. If the human translators think there might be a better way to phrase it, they'll train the database to choose their preferred option next time it encounters a similar request.

If there's not a particular word or phrase in an app, the conversation ends. With Muuzii, it continues, said Cindy Davis, Muuzii's marketing chief, in a chat with VentureBeat. The fact that Muuzii isn't an app is also turning out to be it's own challenge when it comes to consumer outreach and expectations. Everyone knows how to buy and download an app. We have all somehow forgotten the time when you would buy a new ringtone or music for your phone and the cost would show up on your bill, Fang adds. We seem to be going back to the future.

Nevertheless, Muuzii has a solid history of wild success in China, dating all the way back to its launch in 2009 on China Mobile. The service became an overnight phenomenon, earning 1.2 million subscribers in only eight months and winning three separate innovation awards from China Mobile in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Muuzii is currently available by subscription on the AT&T wireless network and will expand to other North and South American carriers in the coming months. The core SMS service costs $2.99 a month, while the MMS audio translation service is is $3.99. Both services will be charged directly to your AT&T bill. The company also expects to add new languages when the next round of capital comes in.

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