Mozilla's Intellego to power machine translation in Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 15, 2014
Updated • Feb 19, 2014

Google implemented the company's own Google Translate service into its Chrome browser. It is a handy feature at times, as you will get a translate notification prompt whenever you visit a foreign language website.

To make things more comfortable, it enables you to configure the service to translate specific languages all the time or not at all.

The Firefox web browser does not have that feature. Add-ons are available for the browser that you can use instead, such as Google Translator for Firefox, but most are not as comfortable to use as Chrome's native implementation.

That's one of the reasons why Intellego is currently being developed, a machine translation project that the developers assigned to the project plan to integrate into the Firefox web browser, and make available to third-parties in form of an open API.

mozilla intellego translate

When it comes to Firefox, the project's main goal is to provide Firefox users with a reliable built-in translation service that works identical to the one in Google Chrome.

Once implemented, it displays similar translation notification options when a Firefox user opens a foreign language website.

A mockup has been created that visualizes those steps. The notification bar is displayed at the top when a foreign language website is opened. It informs you about the language the page is written in, and offers to translate it to another language.

The on-page translation translates all foreign-language text to a target language, with options to change the target language in the second step again.

While Firefox is certainly a focus of the project, it is not the only one. Mozilla's Machine Learning wiki page highlights other use cases.

Mentioned explicitly are web admins who can use the translate API to translate web page contents on user-request into another language with the press of a button, businesses who want to communicate with customers who do not speak the same language, and email translation.

The Intellego wiki page puts the mission this way:

To provide users with automated translation, from any language, to any language, in real time, on any software or device that is useful to them.

The project appears to be in an early stage of development. The first three target markets are Poland, Turkey and Vietnam, with other markets to follow after the initial beta testing period.

Closing Words

The Intellego project is an ambitious one if you take the scope of it into consideration. It will all boil down to how good the machine translations are in the end however

User contributions may help improve the algorithm over time, something like Google's implementation in Chrome that provides users with an option to provide a better translation for a certain paragraph, word or phrase on the page.

Don't except Intellego to hit Firefox or the web anytime soon, but it is something that Firefox users and the Open Web can look forward to. (via Sören)


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  1. Kensie said on February 19, 2014 at 8:20 pm


    There are a few errors in this article, though we definitely appreciate the interest! Intellego was conceived separately from the current in-browser project, but we are working together where we can. We wouldn’t quite say we’ve officially launched yet. Another cool thing about us is that we are not an “official” Mozilla project, that is the Corp or Foundation didn’t decide to create Intellego to fill a business need, we are a few (but growing quickly) intrepid community members (volunteers and staff) that decided this would be an important project for Mozilla to tackle.

    Please feel free to contact me via the email supplied for more information.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 19, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks for the clarification. I have updated the article accordingly.

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