Search /
Docfinder:
Advanced search  |  Help  |  Site map
Applications /

Fluent Machines aims to break through the language barrier

Related linksToday's breaking news
Send to a friendFeedback

Sign up to receive this and other networking newsletters in your inbox.

Habla espanol?  Parlate italiano?  Sprechen Sie Deutsches?  The question, of course, is whether you speak another language. 

Learning to speak a second or third language can be time consuming and challenging.  What if you find out today that next week you're being sent on a business trip to another country where the residents speak a language that you don't know?  Your task is to negotiate a complex contract with a potential new client.  The discussions are expected to be conducted in the client's native language, which isn't English. Panic time?

Advertisement:

Today, the most likely solution is that you'd have a human translator with you.  In the not-too-distant future, however, your translator might well be on your notebook or handheld PC.  Coming soon to a computer near you:  reliable, accurate human-quality machine translation of numerous languages.

A company called Fluent Machines is working on a machine translation application that is expected to be faster and more accurate than any other computer-based translation system in existence today.  The key to Fluent Machines' application is two patent-pending processes developed by its parent company, Meaningful Machines.

The first process enables a computer to automatically generate a database of translated word-strings by examining written text of any kind.  These word-strings could be phrases, entire sentences, or other word combinations.  The system then uses statistical analysis on a large number of documents and begins to distill the translation of all the components of the texts.

The second process connects contiguous translated word-strings in a target language with human-quality accuracy.  The system can automatically build many new, longer word-strings each time a new entry is made to the cross-language database.

There is a synergy between the two processes that allows the system to translate many more word-strings in many more languages, faster, more efficiently and with higher accuracy than other machine translation systems.

As a result, Fluent Machines' application can translate between any two languages for which it has a cross-language database.  Unlike other machine translation applications where cross-language databases are built one at a time between each language pairing - say, English and Japanese - the Fluent Machines' approach is to build the cross-reference databases - between every language and every other language - simultaneously.  One significant benefit to this approach to translation is that it is very well suited for translation among very different languages, such as English-Chinese and English-Arabic.

It's fun to imagine some of the possible uses for a very accurate machine translation application:

* Business - conducting truly global meetings with customers, partners and employees in multiple countries.
* Education - teaching immigrant children whose primary language is not the native language of the school.
* Public sector - improving services for foreign-born residents.
* Government - negotiating treaties with other countries with a better understanding of each party's concerns.
* Defense - improving our intelligence of developments in other countries.

Globe-hopping businessmen will appreciate the ability to travel to several different countries and "speak" or understand the native language in each country.  This is especially pertinent in today's global economy where supply chain partners are often found in countries such as China, India, Malaysia, Korea and Mexico, where English is not the primary language.

Have you ever tried to conduct research on the Internet and had one of your target sites turn up in a different language?  Even as I researched this topic, an article turned up in Polish, and despite my Polish ancestry, I couldn't read it.  In the future, with my machine translator, I will be able to read and understand it.

This past school year, a child from France transferred into my son's elementary school.  At 8 years old, the young boy spoke little English, and he initially struggled in his new American classroom, despite being an intelligent child.  In the future, the language barrier won't impact his studies, as machine translation helps him understand his lessons.

The possibilities are endless as we all get closer to understanding each other, no matter what languages we speak.

Although Fluent Machines is showing demonstrations of its technologies, there is no product that's just about to hit the commercial market yet.  I'm guessing that when it does, it will be a quick "sucesso."  (Of course, that's Portuguese for "success.")

Linda Musthaler is vice president of Currid & Company.  You can write to her at mailto:Linda.Musthaler@currid.com

RELATED LINKS

Currid & Company researches information technology and how it can change the rules of business. Analysts focus on emerging technologies and methods by which organizations can obtain the best results from these innovations. Currid & Company offers consulting services to computer industry and corporate clients to help define and fulfill the potential of these exciting technologies. To learn more about emerging technologies that affect your business and your life, visit Your Digital Minute , brought to you by Currid & Company.

NWFusion offers more than 40 FREE technology-specific email newsletters in key network technology areas such as NSM, VPNs, Convergence, Security and more.
Click here to sign up!
The design, management, and buying decisions you make now about your Wireless LANs will determine the effectiveness of your enterprise network for years to come. Attend Wireless LANs: Gaining Strength, Reaching Farther, a new Network World Technology Tour event. It brings together the intelligence, innovations, and solutions you need. Click here.
Each week Network World delivers an extensive line-up of product, service and industry news, comparative product reviews, product tests, buyers guide, expert opinion and management advice. Click Here to Subscribe Today - IT'S FREE.
Sponsored Links

Optimize Application Performance over the WAN
Accelerate application performance over WANs up to 100x or more with Steelhead appliances. Enable remote site consolidation and increase IT efficiency. To learn how, download a free whitepaper, "It's Not About Bandwidth".
Online CRM solutions from Salesforce.com
Online Customer Relationship Management solutions - sales force automation, customer service and support, and marketing automation. All this and no software! Designed for rapid deployment and adoption. Free 30-day Trial
Rackspace, Managed Servers with Fanatical Support™
Rackspace offers Microsoft and Linux Managed Servers that are custom configured to your exact specifications. All solutions are backed by our award-winning 24/7 Live, Fanatical Support. ™ Tier 1 data centers with a Zero Downtime Network™ Guarantee.
New Special Report by IDC Industry Analysts
Discover why IDC is saying "Ease of installation and configuration are key benefits of security appliances." Learn how Internet filtering appliances make for lower-cost and easier-to-manage Web filtering solutions. Download your free copy today.
Does your company copy software illegally?
Illegal copying is software piracy and it’s against the law. Report Software Piracy Today.
» Buy a link now

Sponsored Links
Proofpoint  - Free info kit: learn how to solve enterprise spam problems for good.
Cisco Systems  - Register now for Networkers—Cisco Systems user conference, July 11-16.
Wiltel Communications  - WilTel Communications - Next-gen solutions for the most challenging networks.
SBC  - Learn how SBC solutions are meeting the needs of real business customers, download case studies now.
McAfee®  - Enterprise Security Center: Exclusive collection of information for securing your business
AlterPoint  - Free IT Business Brief on Network Change and Configuration Management
Oracle Corporation  - Oracle's Grid Computing is breaking out, get expert advice and customer insights, NOW!
DuPont (TM)  - Securing your business uptime is critical, introducing DuPont(TM) certified limited combustible cable.
Statscout  - Are you looking for a simple tool that monitors large networks?
Endforce  - NW Special Report: The Network Endpoint: Target of Opportunity
Voyence  - Voyence wrote the book on network configuration management, download it here.
WatchGuard  - The Future of Firewalls. Join Bob Bragdon, Publisher of CSO Magazine, now for this informative webcast.
Cisco Systems  - Cisco Systems – Enterprise solutions for business continuance
CDW  - CDW - The best place for network security solutions. (And of course, peace of mind.)
Siemens Enterprise Networks  - Improve your business performance; learn how with FREE WHITE PAPERS.
CISCO SYSTEMS  - THE SELF-DEFENDING NETWORK SECURITY DEMO
Ceonex Internet Consulting  - Let us help you grow your online business with our consulting, development and design expertise.
Sun Microsystems  - See how your company wins with the Sun Fire[tm] V480 server.
Optimize Application Performance over the WAN
Accelerate application performance over WANs up to 100x or more with Steelhead appliances. Enable remote site consolidation and increase IT efficiency. To learn how, download a free whitepaper, "It's Not About Bandwidth".
What would you estimate is the average "administrator to server" ratio in today's data centers?
  Higher than 50  
  40:1  
  20:1  
  10:1  
  5:1  
 Also enter to win a
$25 Amazon.com Gift Certificate
* HOME    * RESEARCH CENTERS     * NEWS     * EVENTS

Contact us | Terms of Service/Privacy | How to Advertise
Reprints and links | Partnerships | Subscribe to NW
About Network World, Inc.

Copyright, 1994-2004 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.