A smartphone application from Sakhr Mobile and Dial Directions has been released that translates speech both from Arabic to English and vice-versa. For both Blackberry and iPhone, the app has been designed for military and diplomatic use only - it will not be appearing on RIM App World or the iTunes App Store in the immediate future. Despite this limited release, military inventions frequently make their way to the consumer level. So the temptation to draw parallels between Speech-to-Speech and such commonplace items as the trench coat or the microwave oven is not just seductive, but time-proven.
As the demonstration video shows, the application has a simple interface - one presses a button while speaking, either in English or Arabic, then the software processes the speech, displays text in both languages, and plays the translation out loud. From English to Arabic, examples given include "Please take me to my hotel downtown," as well as "The Prime Minister will form a new government next month."
The software seems very usable in the demo, and carries out Sakhr's mission, as told by Steve Skancke, president of Sakhr Software USA. Their goal to develop technology to enable communication across the Arabic language barrier is one step closer with S2S.
BBN Technologies contacted Sakhr USA to participate in DARPA's GALE (Global Autonomous Language Exploitation) program, which develops computer software technologies to analyze and interpret speech and text into multiple languages. Subsequently Sakhr began working with Dial Directions, mobile device voice-entry technology experts.
Sakhr Software, who specialize in Arabic speech and language software, publicized its acquisition of San Francisco-based Dial Directions on Tuesday. They partnered in 2008 to develop language application technology for mobile, cloud-computing environments, according to BusinessWire . All Dial Directions employees have joined Sakhr USA, who have management teams both in Silicon Valley and Washington, DC.