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DARPA awards contract to improve real-time language translation technology

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The project aims to contribute to the development of immediate, real-time language translation and information extraction system technology.

SRI International research institute has been awarded a $7.1 million contract for the first phase of a five-year, $41.5 million project initiated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Under DARPA's Broad Operational Language Translation (BOLT) program, the project aims to contribute to the development of language translation and information extraction system technology.

The BOLT program focuses on the creation of technology that is capable of translating multiple foreign languages into English. This includes informal speech, regional dialects, text-base communication -- including mobile text messaging and email -- and conversational speech.

Once translation has been achieved, the next step is to create information extraction technology that can allow bilingual communication in return, removing language barriers often experienced by human translators.

The SRI-led team has secured researchers from a number of institutions -- including Columbia University's Engineering School, Queens College City University of New York, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Texas at Dallas.

Jing Zheng, leader of SRI's BOLT initiative and program director in SRI's Speech Technology and Research Laboratory said:

"Machine translation technology has made major progress over the past decade. Now we will work on fundamental breakthroughs to move from memorizing the surface forms of language to understanding the underlying meanings."

Intended to facilitate bilingual conversations with instant, real-time interpretation, the applications of human-machine communication are varied. In the least, it could mean the rising trend of global business exchange would be made easier to achieve -- especially when members of various corporations are not bilingual.

Image credit: Flickr

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure