IBM's research team has come up with a new tool that translates text between English and 11 other languages.
The new software technology is known as n.Fluent and is pronounced "en-fluent," IBM officials said. IBM employees use it to instantaneously translate electronic documents and Web pages-even live, instant messages exchanged on smartphones.
IBM said the foundation of n.Fluent was an internal IBM crowdsourcing project, based on the usage patterns of IBM's nearly 400,000 employees in more than 170 countries, where IBM volunteers contributed to submit, update and continuously refine word translations. Indeed, every time it is used, n.Fluent "learns" and improves its translation engine. To date, the tool has been used by IBMers to translate more than 40 million words, IBM officials said.
Moreover, during a two-week period this past summer, volunteer linguists at IBM crowdsourced approximately 1.3 million words, averaging contributions of approximately 100,000 words per business day. Subsequent campaigns are currently under way across the company to generate and hone more language-related data, the company said.
"To become a smarter planet, the world needs a shared vocabulary for collaboration-particularly the business community," said David Lubensky, an IBM researcher managing the n.Fluent project. "We see n.Fluent as just such a tool, helping to expand commerce, cement relationships and make the world that much smaller, one word at a time."
IBM said n.Fluent can be used for Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Korean, Japanese, French, Italian, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic.
Meanwhile, IBM volunteers also work on DigiCapE and Agora, two other language-related crowdsourcing projects developed by IBM researchers, the company said. These are technologies that enable people to easily locate, transcribe, synchronize, tag, caption and share audio from a video file. Other examples of crowdsourcing at IBM include Voyage, a wiki where IBMers publish, update, edit and share tips related to business travel.