Feeds

Pentagon puts $44m into handheld translators

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.