The U.S. Air Force wants a real-life, Trek-style universal communicator

Sure, tech like Google Translate is getting us a few steps closer to the goal, but we still have a long way to go before before we have a legit Star Trek universal communicator. But the U.S. Air Force apparently wants to get us there.

Considering the military is obviously a global force these days, the Air Force is working to develop technology that would allow soldiers to communicate across virtually any language barrier. As Popular Science reports, the Air Force Research Laboratory put out a solicitation for a universal translator, dubbed “Human Language Technologies,” last week. The Air Force hopes to conduct research and development in automatic speech recognition, machine translation, natural language processing, information extraction, information retrieval, text-to-speech synthesis and other speech and language processing technologies.

So, what makes this project different from other translation tools? The solicitation notes the project would focus on “lesser spoken languages that have high military interest but lack sufficient linguists and automated language processing capabilities.” Which, yeah, makes sense. The Air Force Research Lab plans to release more details in January, with plans to award a $10 million contract over five years.

Technology has already broken down walls and connected the world via the Internet, but finally breaking the spoken-word barrier and allowing us to have conversations across completely different languages? That's the endgame. Here's hoping this is one of the first steps to get us there.

(Via Popular Science)

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