Message translator in the works

People in federal agencies could be collaborating with their foreign government counterparts through instant messaging in the future, even if they don't know the language of the people they are communicating with.

New York-based Transclick Inc., a Web services and systems integration company, will develop Mitre Corp.'s Translingual Instant Messenger (TrIM) prototype for commercial use and bundle it with other translated messaging products and security solutions.

Transclick plans to market TrIM to the military for communicating with its allies, as well as to other fields that use Web-based applications, such as medicine, travel, education and diplomacy.

With TrIM, a number of parties can talk to one another through instant messaging using their native languages. In just a couple of seconds at most, a translation of one party's message appears on another's screen along with the original message.

TrIM responds to a government need with a technology that has quickly become widely popular, said Rod Holland, Mitre's chief architect of multimedia collaboration services.

"The government became interested a few years ago in truly scalable collaboration technology, up to the size of the whole government," he said. "We realized early on [in its evolution] that instant messaging was being deployed at very large scales, [and that those trends were] very favorable for what the government wanted to do."

TrIM is based on Mitre's Simple Instant Messaging and Presence (SIMP) distributed instant messaging architecture. It uses SIMP's Extensible Markup Language-based protocol to request and receive translations from machine translation servers that also "speak" SIMP.

Transclick will develop bridges to enable TrIM to work with popular instant messaging services, such as those from AOL Time Warner Inc. and Microsoft Corp., said Robert Levin, Transclick's chief executive officer.

"We know there is a pent-up demand for this kind of product, and we are confident it will only grow," he said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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