IBM intros machine translation for handhelds

IBM Corp. unveiled a machine translation software application called ViaVoice Translator that will run on Pocket PC 2002 devices on Wednesday here at the DemoMobile show.

Although companies such as Ectaco and Franklin currently have handhelds exclusively targeted at business and foreign travelers, IBM claims to use natural language understanding techniques that recognize unique sentences and word combinations. Using a statistical method which has researchers input millions of full sentences, phrases, and word combinations, over time the system is able to "guess right" with an accuracy rate greater than 90 percent.

The ViaVoice Translator will accept a phrase from English and translate to French, Italian, German, or Spanish, either in text or as a text-to-speech file.

In its first edition, ViaVoice will be available only for Compaq iPaq models H3600, H3700, H3800, and H3900 with a recommendation that memory be upgraded to 128MB.

The software can be downloaded at IBM's site for US$29.99 or purchased on a CD-ROM for $49.99.

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Ephraim Schwartz

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