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[] Real-Time Übersetzung von Fernseh-News für US-Geheimdienste,

New York Times, 7.4.2003

In 24-Hour News Times, Real-Time Translation


Most Americans likely have difficulty understanding the broadcasts of Al
Jazeera, the Arab news network, but several government agencies now can
watch it while simultaneously receiving an English translation of the

Virage Inc., a San Mateo, Calif., a maker of Internet video
technologies, has recently supplied several unnamed United States
intelligence agencies with a system
that will provide real-time voice recognition and English translation of
foreign-language news broadcasts.

The system, which was financed last year by the Pentagon's Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, can run on any fast
personal computer, generating scrolling text displays of both Arabic and
translated English text.

DARPA is conducting a research project known as Translingual Information
Detection, Extraction and Summarization, whose aim is to provide English
speakers with working translations of languages like Arabic and Chinese.

The voice-recognition technology for the Virage system is provided by
BBN Technologies, a subsidiary of Verizon, that does research for
government agencies. Under ideal conditions, the BBN recognition
software can be 95 percent accurate in recognizing spoken English, said
Bradley Horowitz, a Virage founder and
its chief technology officer.

However, in practice such a system would be most useful in spotting
individual words rather than creating reliable transcripts, he said.

"This is what I call `good enough' accuracy," said Mr. Horowitz.

He said the company had supplied several systems to the government, but
that he did not know where, or how, the systems were being used.

In a demonstration the company recently conducted over the Web, the
system produced somewhat cryptic English sentences that gave the viewer
an extremely rough idea of what the Al Jazeera newscasters were

"It's more like poetry than prose," Mr. Horowitz said. "It evokes the
right things, but it's hardly accurate."

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