NEC develops world's first robot capable of speech-to-speech translation through microphone

January 7, 2004

1 Min Read

TOKYO -- NEC Corporation (TSE: 6701) has announced the development of a robot capable of Japanese-English/English-Japanese translation of speech input through a microphone. This was realized through the development and operation of an automatic translation function in the personal robot PaPeRo that is being developed by NEC.

PaPeRo (Partner-Type Personal Robot) is a small robot capable of listening and seeing, and has been developed with the aim of acting as a personal partner to family members within the home. In order to realize an operable robot capable of conversation with a translation function, small memory and compact translation software are necessary. Through the development of a compact, high-speed speech recognition system NEC succeeded in installing this function in the small robot. The robot has been programmed with 50,000 Japanese, and 25,000 English travel/tourism related words that enable automatic Japanese-English/English-Japanese conversation. Through creation of a robot with a translation function support of two-way communication is enabled.

Recently, with the spread of IT terminals and technology in the home that is geared at all age groups, there has been a growing call for barrier-free technology that eliminates the digital divide. In 1983 NEC first announced intentions of developing an automatic translation system that was realized in 1999, and in 2001 NEC launched automatic speech-to-speech translation software 'Tabitsu' for use on notebook PCs on the market. The realization of a speech-to-speech translation capable robot is one step towards eliminating the digital divide and realizing barrier-free communication. NEC will continue to work on this system to enable hands-free (microphone-free) voice input.

NEC Corp.

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