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Translation app breaks down global communication barrier

Veronica C. Silva | July 4, 2012
Research consortium from 23 countries launched speech translation app available in 23 languages.

A consortium of research and scientific groups from across 23 countries from Asia and Europe has recently launched a speech translation application that can help bridge global communication.

The Universal Speech Translation Advanced Research Consortium (U-STAR), with its origins traced  from Asia, recently launched the VoiceTra4U-M app which allows up to five persons to simultaneously chat in 23 different languages.

The consortium said the aim of the app is to break down language barriers by enabling everyone around the world to communicate with each other even without knowing other languages. The consortium said the app can enable 95 percent of the world's population to communicate with each other.

On its website (, the consortium said its beginnings started in Asia in 2006 with the creation of the Asian Speech Translation Advanced Research Consortium (A-STAR) consortium.

In 2009, the consortium transformed into the U-Star consortium with the development of a network-based Speech-to-speech translation (S2ST) system. The system enabled eight different languages in Asia to be translated over the network.

In 2010, the consortium expanded outside of Asia and as of June 2012, it now has as members 26 institutions from 23 countries.

London test site 

An experimental period for the use of the app has been set from June 2012 to March 2013, with the London 2012 Olympics as one of the biggest events that will test the app. In fact, the app was launched in London last month.

At the London Olympics scheduled this month, the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), a Singapore-based research agency and one of the founding research institutes who started developing the application, will be showcasing its development of the speech translation application to translate one of Asia's national languages, Bahasa Melayu into 23 other languages.

More languages can be added to the app when other research institutions plug in the U-STAR speech translation communication protocol libraries.

U-STAR said its network system complies with protocols of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecommunication Standardisation Sector.

With their research, the consortium is hoping that business opportunities for the speech translation service can be cultivated in various markets.

The consortium said the app is available for free from the Apple App Store for the iPhone.


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