The researchers used a method called n-gram consolidation that improves the translation accuracy and dramatically reduces the size of the database while increasing search speed.
"As a result, our application can be used in a real-time, network-independent environment and produce highly accurate results," Boutin said. "We have a prototype in Spanish and have demonstrated the translation can be done in real time within a fraction of a second.
Findings were detailed in a paper presented in July at the IEEE International Conference on Multimedia and Expo in Barcelona, Spain. The paper was written by Parra, graduate student Andrew W. Haddad, Boutin and Edward J. Delp, the Charles William Harrison Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
"We believe the approach we are taking in this project is extendable to other types of mobile devices, including iPads and also the Android mobile phones," Delp said. "The results have been extremely good."
The researchers developed "lightweight algorithms" that operate quickly, have low-energy consumption and require low memory. The real-time translation is nine-hundreds of a second on average, and the application has a memory size of 9.56 megabytes, including its multimedia database, compared to several gigabytes for conventional translation systems, Boutin said.
The method could be further developed as a tool for people who have special diets by adding a database of nutritional information.
"People who must follow a medical diet are often reluctant to travel for fear of putting their health at risk," Boutin said. "Without the ability to understand menus, it is impossible to make informed food choices. In some extreme cases, for example peanut allergies, the consumption of even a minute quantity of certain nutrients can be fatal. In other cases, such as diabetes or congeni
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