NEC develops translation software for cellphone

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Japanese electronics giant NEC Corp. said Friday it has created a world-first real-time translator on a cellphone, which can instantly turn Japanese travellers’ words into English.

One second after the phone hears speech in Japanese, the cellphone with the new technology shows the text on the screen. One second later, an English version appears.

NEC said it was the first time in the world that automatic translation is available on a cellphone without external help.

The company made it possible by making the software, which includes a voice-recognition system and translation functions, compact enough to operate on a small microchip mounted in a cellphone, it said.

The software, which can recognise some 50,000 Japanese words, is especially designed for smooth translation of travel phrases such as “Can I have a subway route map?”.

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