Voice Recognition: Universal Translation for Smartphones
With new technologies like online translation programs and handheld language dictionaries, language barriers are becoming less of a communication obstacle. The Tech News Daily reported that the U.S. military is developing something that takes language translation one step further. After years of development, major progress has been made on a “universal translator” application for smartphones.
This may sound like something out of Star Trek, but the new technology may someday replace the need for a human translator when communicating with people who speak another language. Considering the critical need for trustworthy translators, this approach may reduce risk of important information being “lost in translation.”
The research is being done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as part of a program initiated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the military’s Research and Development wing. Speakers of Pashto, an Afghani dialect, were asked to listen and respond to various phrases, greetings and other directives commonly used in communication with U.S. Marines. The military hopes to use the translation software to ensure smoother, more effective communication with foreign allies.
Researchers used the Google Nexus One, a Smartphone that was equipped with something called a TRANSTAC program. TRANSTAC stands for “TRANSlation system for TACtical use” which is capable of translating for spoken language communication. The soldiers would hold the Smartphone up to their mouth and speak through it. A speech-to-text software program recognizes the words as they’re spoken and converts them to text format. The English text is then translated to the desired foreign language. After this occurs, the Smartphone says the phrase aloud in a voice that can be understood by the non-English speaking party. The reverse process is used to reply back in English.
NIST tested and evaluated three different two-way systems, focusing primarily on another Afghani dialect (Dari) and Iraqi Arabic. Apparently, the program remains some distance away from completing the ‘universal translator’ that Trekkies would be hoping for, translating Enterprise crew members’ voices to into alien languages.
Take a look at the original article – there are a few links there to supplement as well.
Military Developing ‘Universal Translator’ on Smartphones
- Voice Recognition: Google Dives Into Voice Activation Control
- The Rising Importance of Voice Recognition in Biometric Devices
- Rave Reviews for Microsoft Kinect’s Face and Voice Recognition