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Even if you don’t speak German, or haven’t habla españoled for years, a new kind of machine-translation technology unveiled by IBM recently is promising e-businesses the ability to communicate with their international clients and partners over the Internet instantly in their own languages.
“It’s about breaking down the global communications barrier,” says Ed Zinnes, manager for voice middleware marketing for IBM.
“We’ve got this great communication infrastructure that exists now, but we have this language barrier that’s still in the middle.”
The WebSphere Translation Server is set up to provide Web pages, e-mail messages and even real-time chat conversations in multiple languages, including French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.
A bi-directional text-translation system allows a Web-based business in Frankfurt, for example, to communicate instantly with a supplier in Seoul, translating up to 500 words per second and converting Web page information into the language of the customer’s choice without having to use special Web pages or a separate Web infrastructure.
Zinnes says at $10,000 US a processor, the technology will also be affordable for smaller enterprises that are trying to connect with the global marketplace, although the service will be marketed first to medium and large enterprises with B2B or B2C operations.
It’s estimated the market for machine-translation software could reach $378 million by 2003.
“This is very much a business application that consumers will use,” he adds. “It was designed specifically . . . for those large-scale, robust applications that require scalability on multiple platforms.”
The WebSphere server will be on the market in Canada by March from IBM and its business partners, and will run on NT, AIX and Solaris servers.
A demonstration of the machine translation is at: www106.ibm.com/developerworks/mt/