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Kurzweil's kReader can now translate scanned text and read it out in your language.

Ray Kurzweil is one of the most amazing intellectuals and inventors of our time. From his teenage years he's been building a long list of extraordinary achievements, from his early work teaching computers to compose music, to his world-first font-independent optical character recognition system, to his pioneering electric synthesizers that are so accurate that even musicians can't discern them from a real piano in listening tests. In 1976, blind music legend Stevie Wonder bought the first production model of the Kurzweil Reading Machine, a tabletop-sized device that was able to scan text documents and read them out using a text-to-speech engine. Last year, Kurzweil teamed up with Nokia to integrate the reading machine and its synthetic voice into the N82 mobile phone, letting blind or illiterate users read documents, menus, bills, and anything else they could capture on the phone's inbuilt camera. Now, Kurzweil has announced that the kReader phone can translate text it captures that's in another language and read it out to you in your language. It also has new text-tracking abilities to make it even easier to capture all the text on a page.  Read More

Marcel Just and Tom M. Mitchell
 Photo: Carnegie Mellon

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computational model that can predict the unique brain activation patterns associated with concrete nouns with a mean accuracy of 77 percent.  Read More logo

May 13, 2008 Vision impaired users can now access books, news articles and web pages using an email-based service that translates text into Braille and audio recordings. RoboBraille is a free service offering a simple way of converting text without the need for users to operate complicated software and has completed more than 250,000 translations since its launch in January.  Read More

Digit Wireless Phantom Slider Alpha Pinyin

February 27, 2008 Following news of a Fastap Hindi language keyboard for mobiles, Digit Wireless has announced that its input system has been certified under the Chinese text-entry standard by China’s State Language Commission.  Read More

Fastap Hindi Language Platform

Digit Wireless, creator of Fastap keyboard technology, has now pioneered a Hindi Language Platform for mobile devices to meet the needs of a growing Indian technology consumer market. Research conducted in 2007 showed that India is the fastest growing global mobile market enjoying a growth rate of 316% from 2005–2010, with almost 240 million new connections. As such, it makes sense that companies such as Digit Wireless would want to cash in on this booming economy.  Read More

The AHKY wrist worn translation device

July 16, 2007 Speaking via an interpreter is difficult enough at the best of times, so you can imagine the difficulties soldiers in foreign lands have communicating with the population when there is a significant language barrier, no interpreter and lots of big guns in the near vicinity. The AHKY (Arabic for ‘speak’ ) is a new wrist worn translation device developed by Iraqi-born University of Derby student, Amin Ismail, will soon tackle the problem when it is deployed by British troops serving in Iraq. The AHKY currently has ten phrases which have been programmed in English, Arabic and Kurdish. Phrases such as ‘nothing will happen to you’; ‘turn around slowly’; and ‘come here’. Other languages and phrases specific for a user’s specific mission are uploaded prior to each use.  Read More

Celebrating 50 years of Fortran

June 21, 2007 The programming language Fortran celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, having touched the lives of millions of programmers and billions of people in the half century since. A proposal from IBM employee John Backus to develop an efficient alternative to assembly language for programming the company’s IBM 704 mainframe computer in 1953 resulted in the first specification for the IBM Mathematical FORmula TRANslating System in 1956. The first FORTRAN compiler appeared in April 1957 and the rest is history. To mark the occasion, a special issue of Scientific Programming on the role of Fortran in the scientific programming discipline is being published by IOS Press this month. The issue is dedicated to Fortran creator John Backus and Ken Kennedy, pioneer of Fortran compiler optimization and parallelization. Both highly esteemed scientists died earlier this year.  Read More

Bilingual learning benefits second and third generation children

March 13, 2007 Bilingual learning can provide substantial benefits for second and third generation children whose families speak a language other than English, according to ESRC-funded research by Goldsmiths, University of London. Even when children have grown up with English as their stronger language, using both languages aids cognitive development and strengthens their identities as learners.  Read More

US$230 Handheld Translator speaks 12 languages

January 12, 2007 The barriers between cultures that create fear, mistrust and conflict seem to be dissolving – first distance and now language is going the same way as the Berlin Wall. At CES, electronic handheld information publisher Franklin Electronic showed its new 12-Language Speaking Global Translator (Model TGA-490). The US$230 pocket-sized handheld contains over 450,000 words and 12,000 phrases in twelve languages and features recorded human speech providing accurate and clear pronunciation of words and phrases in all twelve languages. Basically, this means that if you speak Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish, you now have the basics to have a conversation with anyone who speaks one of these languages, though this communication tool was specially designed with the non-Asian language speaker travelling to the Far East in mind. The new PDA-sized device has a slide out keyboard and a rechargeable battery and also includes an MP3 player, a currency converter, world clock, alarm, and voice recorder.  Read More

Breakthroughs In Cross Lingual Communication and Speech-to-Speech Translation

November 4, 2005 Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Karlsruhe's joint International Center for Advanced Communication Technologies (InterACT) held a landmark videoconference last week to demonstrate new breakthroughs in cross-lingual communication. InterACT director, computer science professor Alex Waibel, who is a faculty member at both institutions, demonstrateed domain-independent, speech-to-speech translation in a lecture, which was simultaneously translated from English to Spanish to German. Current speech-to-speech translation systems allow translation of spontaneous speech in very limited situations, like making hotel reservations or tourist shopping, but they cannot enable translation of large, open domains like lectures, television broadcasts, meetings or telephone conversations. The new technology developed by InterACT researchers fills that gap and makes it possible to extend such systems to other languages and lecture types.  Read More

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