NEC Corporation has developed a multilingual speech translation system with a simultaneous message broadcast function in cooperation with Sumitomo Mitsui Construction to support communications in environments where different languages are used, such as construction sites. This system has been adopted by Sumitomo Mitsui Construction’s “DoKoMinaPhone” smartphone application, making it is possible to broadcast translations to all users or designated working groups at once.
In the construction industry, as globalization continues, it has become a challenge to facilitate communication with the increasing number of international workers in Japan, as well as local employees at overseas locations. In order to solve this issue, this system has first been developed to provide voice translation and simultaneous broadcasting between Japanese and English.
1. Provides a more natural translation similar to human speech
The system is equipped with a neural translation engine from the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), which is engaged in research and development, to provide more natural translation from Japanese to other languages or from other languages to Japanese.
2. Flexible group settings according to need or purpose
By launching a dedicated smartphone app, then scanning and authenticating a QR code, users can easily join a preset group and start communicating using automatic translation of voice calls.
3. Displays time series translation in chat format
Spoken content can be recorded and replayed, and “original,” “translated,” and “reverse-translated” text can be displayed on a screen in group chat format.
As seen in the above image, the remarks of a Japanese speaker are first displayed in the upper left of a screen. The remarks appear in the order of “original,” “translated” and “reverse-translated” sentences, then the response of an English speaker is displayed on the right side. Users can check whether the translation is correct or not by displaying “reverse-translated” text.
Going forward, NEC will leverage this experience with Sumitomo Mitsui Construction to encourage adoption of the system and “DoKoMinaPhone” application throughout the construction industry as part of contributing to smooth communications within international workforces. Moreover, in order to continually improve services, NEC will gather feedback from on-site workers who have actually used this system. This is in addition to increasing the number of languages that are supported, adding hands-free operation functions in consideration of worker safety, and accurately responding to technical terms and phrases specific to the construction field.
Through these efforts, NEC will improve functions so that the system can become a communication tool for use at construction sites around the world, and expand it into a variety of industries, including the transportation, distribution, and food and beverage industries, with the aim of creating new innovations that will solve communication issues related to language.