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Tablet Translator Will Enter Testing Next Year

by Richard Sisk on May 22, 2014

TranslatorThe military expects to introduce a tablet protype of its combat translation system by the end of the year, officials said Wednesday.

Troops have depended on translators in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past decade. The Pentagon’s researching arm the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has also offered translation services that allows troops to speak into a device that immediately translates the phrase for the local population.

It is part of the Broad Operation Language Translation program that was intended to allow “real-time interactive translation between two people” in a range of languages with allowances for dialects and idioms, a DARPA representative said.

The BOLT system would be operated by voice and DARPA’s plan was to have a tablet prototype in testing by the end of this year. This would be the first tablet prototype to come out of the program.

The BOLT was among more than 100 projects and 29 advanced research programs on display in the Pentagon’s courtyard Wednesday in what was billed as DARPA Demo Day.

Most of the programs dealt with cyber-security and developing systems designed to attack and eliminate cyber threats as fast as they appear.

“The Information Revolution has been a huge boon to society, but our growing dependence on information networks also means that information is today’s tactical and strategic high ground,” said Dan Kaufman, director of DARPA’s Innovation Office.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

frank May 22, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Sure hope it works better than google translate.


hibeam May 22, 2014 at 11:43 pm

"Hello" = "I am a dirty infidel and Allah demands you shoot me in the face"


Stan May 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm

"Hello" = "I am a typical American who can't even find this latest war zone of ours on a map"


Cataldo May 23, 2014 at 3:42 am

It 's definitely an effective system, not a gadget, but you must always be careful not to confuse a help in reading more data from the necessity of empathy and awareness, this is achieved only with a serious face-to-face training with experienced instructors. Among other things, this family of projects, adds an extra layer of raw input to vast databases of data acquisition, Moloch magnifies another notch …


jamesb May 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm

No matter what thing does it will NEVER replace a warm body that can read words and what they ACTUALLY mean…..


rtsy May 23, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Yeah, and a robot will NEVER replace a human in a factory or a pilot in a plane either!


DB-1 May 23, 2014 at 8:48 pm

This could be the first step towards a universal translator that could be worn like on star trek..


Thunder350 May 24, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Curious to know if they tested Google Translate app, and why they didn't decide to use that. It works nearly flawlessly, and you can have an active, and natural, conversation in real time in over 80 languages from any android and/or iOS device without a data connection. You can even snap photos of written text with the camera and it'll translate it to the language of your choice, or if old fashioned, type it up.


Wulf145 May 26, 2014 at 4:19 am

No Offense intended, but Google translate does not work anywhere nearly flawlessly. If it works as well for paschtun, as it does for german I would not rely on it for anything other than asking the way to the toilet.

ie. The same sentence translated from the german in English:

No offense, but Google Translation is not working properly. If it works for Pashto as it works for German, I would not leave it except to ask for directions to the toilet.

Though you might get the jist of what is ment, would you entrust your safety to this type of translation ?


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Wouldn't want to be the guy using this when it asks some tribesman: "How much for your wife?"


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