January 19, 2012

Contract Award: Raytheon to provide speech-to-speech translation capabilities for U.S. Army

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, the U.S. Army has awarded Raytheon BBN Technologies a $5.5 million contract to develop a two-way communication and translation system that can be used on a variety of operating systems and platforms, including portable, mobile and net-enabled devices.

Raytheon BBN Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon Company, will develop prototype systems for two-way speech-to-speech translation, document translation, and text-to-text translation. This capability will allow users to communicate with non-English speakers as well as to screen and translate printed or electronic text. In the initial technology development phase, BBN will develop the software architecture and implement it on prototypes in portable, mobile and net-enabled configurations.

The Technology

Raytheon BBN's TransTalk is one of the company products providing tranlation capabilities. The product is a portable, two-way translation device that facilitates the exchange of information across a language barrier. English speech is automatically translated and spoken in the foreign language. The foreign language speaker’s response is then translated automatically into English speech. The speech-to-speech translation technology is language independent and can be configured for any language pair. Typical applications include force-on-force training, private peer-to-peer communication between military officers, military intelligence gathering, medical/refugee scenarios, civil and administrative meetings, session logging and evidence gathering.


"There simply are not enough human translators available to meet the Army's needs, and previous translation devices have restricted users to a selection of canned phrases," said Prem Natarajan, head of the speech, language and multimedia processing unit at Raytheon BBN Technologies. "The Machine Foreign Language Translation Systems program offers the promise of a complete communications solution for unrestricted speech and text across a variety of platforms -- from server-based systems to portable units for mobile use."

References: Raytheon (1,2)

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