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IBM Brings Translation to Handhelds

LA JOLLA, CA - IBM announced the new ViaVoice Translator - machine translation software that enables translation on handheld computers.
Posted Sep 1, 2002
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LA JOLLA, CA - IBM announced the new ViaVoice Translator - machine translation software that enables translation on handheld computers. Introduced at Demo Mobile, ViaVoice Translator provides two-way translation from English to French, Italian, German and Spanish, providing travelers and mobile workers with a way to understand e-mails, downloaded news, directions, road signs, etc. printed in those languages. Available online and through retail outlets, the ViaVoice Translator runs on Pocket PC and WinCE platforms. ViaVoice Translator, built on technology from IBM's WebSphere Translation Server, allows users to enter a phrase in one language as text, and have it returned in another language either as text or read out as speech. "In a mobile world where technology is steadily moving to a growing number of devices, consumers will come to expect that the technology they have on their PCs and laptops will be available to them on mobile devices," said DEMOmobile Executive Producer Chris Shipley. "ViaVoice Translator has taken a powerful application and deployed it on a small footprint, giving consumers a convenient yet practical solution." Unlike phrase or dictionary translation, that are limited to specific words or sentences, machine translation allows users to dynamically translate longer documents, providing added flexibility. Documents are translated in context - an increasingly important function as more and more handhelds are used to download news, work-related e-mails and lifestyle information as well as for calendar and contact information. "As computing power moves away from PCs into embedded devices, technology needs to becomes more transparent," said Toby Maners, Director, Retail Voice Segment, IBM Pervasive Computing Division. "ViaVoice Translator breaks down communication barriers and allows busy people on the move to get more functionality than ever from the handheld devices that are an integral part of their daily routines. While machine translation will never replace human translators, it gives consumers added convenience and flexibility by providing instant and affordable gist translation." ViaVoice Translator can be downloaded from ibm.com or loaded from a CD into a PC and then synchronized to a handheld device. Users can download one language pair, or all four. In addition to allowing users to enter text from scratch, the software also offers 50 pre-loaded "starter sentences" such as "Where is the train station?" or "I would like to exchange money." Text can also be active-synched from the desktop, or from a soft keyboard or handwriting recognizer directly into the iPAQ. It can also be copied and pasted from any text-based document such as Pocket Word or e-mail. The translation appears as text, and can also be played back using IBM's embedded text-to-speech technology. IBM's machine translation technology is also available on the server, via IBM's WebSphere Translation Server. WTS allows for machine translation for web pages, documents, as well as instant messages via Lotus Sametime.
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