SRI Deploys Portable Speech-to-Speech Translation System in Iraq | SRI International

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SRI International Deploys Portable Speech-to-Speech Translation System for Investigative Fielding in Iraq


IraqComm Speech-to-Speech Translation SystemMENLO PARK, Calif. - July 12, 2006 - SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development organization, today announced the successful delivery of its IraqComm™ speech-to-speech (S2S) translation system to U.S. forces in Iraq. To date, 32 units have been shipped to Iraq for an investigative fielding of two-way language translation between English and Iraqi Arabic. The IraqComm system will be used by U.S. military personnel responsible for training Iraqi military and police forces.  

The IraqComm system was developed as part of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA’s) Spoken Language Communication and Translation System for Tactical Use (TRANSTAC) program, and selected for a first investigative fielding by the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), in support of the Multinational Force Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I). The intent of the IraqComm investigative fielding is to capture user feedback and use the operational test results to provide valuable input on automated translation system requirements and performance expectations, while collecting data that can be leveraged by future research programs.

"Our goal is to enable mobile units operating in areas where human interpreters are scarce to communicate effectively with speakers of different languages in real-world tactical situations," said Wayne Richards, Deputy Branch Chief, U.S. Joint Forces Capabilities Division.  "Additionally, USJFCOM and DARPA seek to significantly improve our nation’s capability in emerging languages and dialects to include low-density languages in other potential conflict areas."

"Troops coming back from Iraq say one of the biggest problems they face is the language barrier," said Kristin Precoda, director of SRI’s Speech Technology and Research (STAR) Laboratory. "IraqComm was designed to address this pressing need, providing high-accuracy translations through a very simple interface."

The IraqComm system performs spontaneous bidirectional translation, and has a vocabulary of nearly 40,000 English and 50,000 Iraqi Arabic words. The system runs on industry-standard laptop and tablet PCs.  In addition to SRI's technology, the IraqComm system uses technology components from Language Weaver, Inc.  and Cepstral LLC. Language Weaver is providing components of the system's machine translation software.  Synthetic voice translation is provided by Cepstral LLC in both English and Iraqi Arabic. Spoken-language translation frees users from having to read the translations off of a computer screen and enables the system to be used with illiterate conversation partners.

USJFCOM is overseeing the investigative fielding of the IraqComm system. Additionally, USJFCOM is responsible for accelerating user training, development of Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs), Joint Concepts of Operations (JCONOPs), technical support for repair, replacement and system updates, data collection, mission domain development and continuous operational Warfighter Utility Assessments. 

Assessment results are provided to both DARPA and the SEQUOYAH Transition Management Office (STMO) to guide the system development process.  On behalf of USJFCOM, the STMO is chartered to provide automated foreign translation solutions to the Department of Defense (DOD) as part of an investigative fielding strategy.


About SRI International’s Speech Technology and Research (STAR) Laboratory

SRI's STAR Laboratory is recognized as a world-leading speech and language technology organization. The staff, which includes engineers, computer scientists and linguists, is active in both technology creation and technology transfer.


About SRI International

Silicon Valley-based SRI International ( is one of the world's leading independent research and technology development organizations. Founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946, SRI has been meeting the strategic needs of clients for 60 years. The nonprofit research institute performs client-sponsored research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses and private foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships and creates spin-off companies.


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