Star Trek-like universal translator a step closer
Firms merge to build mobile voice, text translation app (See video below)
Computerworld - The first iterations of something akin to the universal translators used on Star Trek may soon be arriving via your smartphone.
A merger of two companies on Tuesday, Dial Directions in San Francisco and Sakhr Software Co. in Vienna, Va., brings together technologies that can turn an iPhone, BlackBerry or Windows Mobile device into a voice and text translator.
Dial Directions has developed voice activation and recognition software that is used to provide driving directions via cell phones. Sakhr makes Arabic speech and language technology for U.S. government agencies, among other customers. The companies have been working on a joint project before the merger, but are now discussing how it works.
The new application is a mobile voice and text translation application that enables a user to speak English or Arabic into a phone. That speech is then translated into speech and text via a cloud-based service that comprised the application. It's not a real time universal translator, but it's very close.
"You can say anything you want and it will translate it very, very well," said Dial Directions CEO Adeeb Shanaa, who is now chief executive of the combined companies. "I would put it close to very close to actually having a perfectly fluent translator with you in your pocket."
Voice training by the user isn't needed, but the voice recognition will improve after a few times of use, said Shanaa.
Dan Miller, an analyst at Opus Research, which studies mobile Web and speech processing, says the merged technology's capability is "something of a leap."
While he hasn't tried this specific device, Miller said translation capability, as general rule, is still short of perfect. If able to achieve between 70 and 80 percent accuracy transcribing a single language into to text, "you are doing very well."
The U.S. government is seeking 95% accuracy in the translation of Arabic and Chinese speech and text under a research program it calls Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE), which is being run by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Sakhr is involved in the GALE project.
All the Dial Directions employees have joined Sakhr, which now has a combined workforce of 200. Shanaa said the basic technology can be applied to other languages.
Read more about Mobile Apps in Computerworld's Mobile Apps Topic Center.
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile Application Development Platforms As unprecedented numbers of enterprises build mobile applications, the mobile application development platform market continues to grow and evolve rapidly.
- The Total Economic Impact of IBM's Worklight Platform Mobile is the fastest growing consumer technology in history. As enterprises build apps to engage these new users they are facing increased complexity...
- Improve Your Mobile Application Security with IBM Worklight IBM® Worklight helps organizations extend their business across multiple mobile devices. It provides an open, comprehensive and advanced mobile application platform to help...
- Unlock the Value of Enterprise Mobility Download this guide and learn how to manage the secure deployment of enterprise mobile apps and data, while still encouraging the levels of...
- It's Chaos Out There Worried about your mobile apps? You should be; it's chaos out there. Check out this humorous video and see if you can recognize...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources... All Mobile Apps White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!