Feeds

Pentagon puts $44m into handheld translators

Disperse at once or we fire <beep> Have a nice day

High performance access to file storage

The US Navy is putting $44m-plus into "Phraselator®" Machine Based Language Translation tech, designed to overcome language barriers using "phrase recognition and generation" algorithms.

The company providing Phraselator® is Voxtec, a small business qualifier based in Maryland. It says its software is a departure from conventional machine voice-recognition and translation tech.

"Machine translation has been an active area of research since the 1950s," notes the company.

"This problem has proved to be more complex than initially imagined. After 50 years of aggressive research, universal translation is still in its infancy."

Phraselator: The collateral damage was regrettable.

The Voxtec developers say this is because it's too difficult to get computers to do "phoneme recognition and universal text translation." Rather, their kit is designed around the assumption that "most application areas ... have a specific lexicon that can effectively be communicated using a predefined, well-organized set of functional phrases."

That may or may not be the case; but it's possible to say it might be true to some degree when speaking of the US military and its dealings with foreign-language speakers. Voxtec also sells to American police departments.

Voxtec's flagship product is the Phraselator® P2, which will recognise useful spoken phrases in English ("up against the wall and spread 'em," "do ya feel lucky, punk?" "get dahn, it's gunna blow!" etc) and plays them back aloud in another language. It can also be operated using a touch screen or handheld buttons: but Voxtec say it really can recognise phrases:

"It doesn't have to "learn" your voice or speech patterns to understand you. It instantly understands anyone who speaks English, making it a force-multiplier. Its voice recognition is so powerful you could literally sing a phrase into it and still be understood."

This could suggests a new application, in translating famously hard-to-understand English opera lyrics. In fact that isn't mentioned, but Voxtec kit is being used by construction bosses employing non-English-speaking labour, and medics with similar customer bases. Not to mention Native Americans seeking to preserve their traditional languages.

Phraselator® was originally funded by - you guessed it - the Defence Advanced research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon kill-nerds who seldom eat their midday meal at their desks*. The phrase-speaker tech seems to have been one of their more achievable ideas, if this latest funding is anything to go by.®

*Because they're out to lunch

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.