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Phraselator Promotes Diplomatic Solutions in the Field

Written by on Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Anybody with a smart phone can download Google Translate, a handy little app that translates languages. The user can speak into the device, which does its best to decipher and then translate human speech. You can even press a button that will cause the device to say the phrase. While this app is interesting and certainly useful, it is a long way off from being totally reliable. It is so broad and attempts to translate so many languages with so many accents that it can often make mistakes.

That is why Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has developed a handheld device called the Phraselator that will reliably translate language. Troops have no need to figure out how to say “Where is the bathroom?” in Russian, but they do need to know how to say “Wait here and don’t move,” in several different languages common in the Middle East.

The specificity of this need enables DARPA to be much more accurate with their handheld translation device. There is no need to translate every word in the English language into Arabic. It just needs to be able to handle simple phrases like, “Are you armed?” or “Is there buy online antibiotics anyone hiding there?” Whereas a program like Google Translate will get these phrases right most of the time, the precision focus of the Phraselator will enable it to translate phrases correctly every time.

Additionally, rather than saying the phrase in the robotic, fragmented voice common to many modern computer programs, the Phraselator plays a recording of the phrase by a native speaker, so the message will always be loud and clear. Nothing will ever be lost in translation.

The Phraselator is an excellent device for troops abroad, because troops in the field often don’t have the time or luxury to grapple with a translator to make sure that it’s saying “Do you have a gun?” and not “Do you have gum?” It is all utility, with no unnecessary bells and whistles that might obfuscate what the soldier is trying to communicate. Designed by a Navy SEAL, the Phraselator is designed with the a soldier’s demands in mind.

Over 600 Phraselators have already been shipped to soldiers in the field, and are being used regularly to translate between English and languages such as Korean, Haiti, Arabic, and Pashto.


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