Darpa Wall GraffitiForeign language translation in the battlefield is a job the military wants to see automated.

BBN Technologies has been awarded a $5.6 million contract to develop automated translation systems for the U.S. military.

The funding comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under the Multilingual Automatic Document Analysis and Translation program.

MADCAT – Multilingual Automatic Document Classification Analysis and Translation – has a single goal, to quickly convert everything from a handwritten note, urban graffiti and computer files in foreign languages to English using a PDA or a laptop so that military personnel may respond to threats in foreign nations.

“This is one of the most exciting but challenging research areas,” Tad Elmer, president and CEO, BBN Technologies, stated, “but the potential benefit is clearly huge.”

BBN says it plans to pull it off by integrating “optical character recognition with state-of-the-art translation and distillation techniques,” while developing “novel methods for processing handwritten text,” according to its press release.

Is automatic voice translation the next frontier?

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Photo Credit: DARPA

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