In yet another show of support of the open-source nature of Android by the U.S. Military, Engadget is reporting that DARPA (the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency) is in the early stages of testing translation software to help NATO troops in Afganistan. DARPA teamed up with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to make it all possible, and an-Android based program is one of several possible systems the duo are testing.

Google already offers the free Google Translate app [Market | AppBrain], but it would be no surprise that the needs of troops on the ground exceed what it can do. Let hope that this testing works out and finds its way to the battlefield quickly. I personally know a ton of people going into the military who will likely be deployed, and technology like this can only make their jobs that much easier. 

NIST seems more than happy to make Star Trek references in their official video, which you can view for yourself after the break. [NIST via Engadget]



Reader comments

Military testing Nexus Ones for real-time translation in Afganistan


doubtful since all they are doing is testing it.. if that was the reason google closed the store wouldnt they wait till they actually know itll be used for the military?

I served as a medic in Fallujah in 2005. As well as treating Marines during combat, I also had to treat wounded Iraqi civilians and insurgents. The biggest issue I had personally was understanding what the wounded were telling me about what hurts and why, or for what period of time. This kind of technology could save lives.

This is a shinning example of the types of things you see when you have a software engineering company working on a system vs a hardware and UI design company. Pretty UI's and black glass don't get work done.

I love my Nexus One and all, but the screen is so hard to see in the sun, that was my first worry about them using it out there.

While this would be useful, i hope it doesn't replace language training. Being able to speak the language is even more important in some situations

Does this software already exist on the Droid devices or is it in beta testing? I've been wondering for some time if there was a software that one could speak into in, say, Italian or Spanish, and it would translate what the person has said into English. If this software is already available could someone let me know so I can get my hands on it? Greatly appreciated.

EDIT: Just found out Google Translate does exactly this. Spoke too soon lol.

Kyle: Minor correction... NIST is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Not Science and Technology. I should know, I work there. :-)

Otherwise, awesome article. Unfortunately I don't work on this project. But nonetheless, it's very cool to see technology like this in use, and to see my organization using such a cool platform!

Thanks for the heads up! And thanks for your work there, I am sure you guys are doing some incredible stuff!

It works good in a test environment, but until they can use this without a data connection, it doesn't have much use in the field. Currently most translation apps in the market rely on to pull the translation. In the middle of Afghanistan, this doesn't do anyone any good.

Wish Text to Speech app in the market would stop freezing my droid x... maybe then it would speak to me better