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IBM Does Speech Translation Between English And Arabic, Plus English and Chinese. Wow.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 16, 2006

IBM has been working on automatic language translation for a long time and it is now rolling out “MASTOR” which is the Multilingual Automatic Speech-To-Speech Translator software. Instead of repeating a series of fixed phrases in different languages, people will be able to have free-form conversations, according to IBM. In fact, people won’t have to memorize any foreign language at all.

The first client is the U.S. military which is buying a system that uses 50,000 English words and 100,000 Iraqi Arabic words. IBM says “The goal is for this technology to facilitate military and medical-oriented conversations with members of the Iraqi security forces, in hospital settings and during daily interactions with Iraqi citizens.” It will initially be put on 35 ruggedized laptops in Iraq by the US military. DARPA helped finance the research.

If this is the breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for, it has huge potential in society. Check out the IBM site for a demo in Chinese and English to see how it is done.

For more details, check out the researchers and their work. Clearly, Chinese and China are market targets.

IBM could use a little work on “MASTOR.” Yes, you do master a language but “MASTOR” has too much cognitive dissonance for me.

Reader Comments

keanu zhang

October 18, 2006 11:47 AM

if IBM can really make this, that will greatly benefit business globalization


June 11, 2008 1:10 PM

Thanks a lot, this is really helpful. Really well for me and I’m not going back to the proprietary guys! If You Need More Information Please Visit us :- eTranslate is an international company specialising in the provision of Internationalization and Globalization Solutions.


February 6, 2009 3:25 AM


Christopher Roberts

February 8, 2009 7:30 PM

Cool, this is really helpful, as I'm going to China soon. All my Chinese stuff will be posted on my site ( )


June 22, 2009 3:06 PM

Facility of Translation in any language is very well.



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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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