IBM kicks off universal translator, mobile soul removal

IBM has been touting the latest initiative to come out of its Research Labs, aimed at building a slew of services for the developing economies where mobile phones are the de facto web access device.

There’s a lot of fluff around the initiative (social networks go mobile – who’d have thought it?), but some potentially interesting work. Here’s what IBM says it will be working on:

Universal Mobile Translator
IBM’s researchers are developing new technology to facilitate speech between individuals who speak no common language with the goal of free-form dialogue facilitated by a PDA. IBM technology is already allowing travelers using PDAs to translate menus in Japanese and doctors to communicate with patients in Spanish. IBM real-time translation technologies will be embedded into mobile phones, handheld devices and cars.

Portable Power in Your Pocket
IBM’s SoulPad software allows PC users to separate a computer’s “soul” — the programs, settings and data it holds — from its body, the disks, keyboard, screen, processor and other hardware from which it is comprised. Once a computer’s soul is stored on a storage device like a portable USB hard drive or iPod with SoulPad software, it can be carried around and reincarnated in any other computer simply by plugging in the storage device and starting the computer up.

Social Networks Go Mobile
Consumers can communicate with their social network friends regardless of where they are with voice and SMS from either a PC or a mobile phone. This is huge for generation Y consumers. For example, young shoppers looking at purchasing clothes in a store are increasingly looking for immediate feedback via their social networks, and the easiest way to make this happen is via mobile devices.

Healthcare Goes Mobile
IBM Research has brought together mobile phones and “presence” technology combined with health records to provide a potential “good samaritan” with information on how to aid people in critical medical situations. This combination of IBM Research capabilities and IBM WebSphere Presence Server exemplifies IBM’s ability to create enhanced mobile applications for everyday life.

Interesting, it also says it’s working on “voice-enabled mobile commerce” – if there ever was an application that should be more developed, it’s speech input, particularly for developing economies. After all, how useful is text input and SMS in countries where there’s an 50 percent illiteracy rate?

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