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From Front Line to War Room, Linguistics Changing Military's Work

At a checkpoint near a combat zone, a line of cars and trucks idles in the mid-day sun as a group of soldiers peers into back seats and checks IDs. As he moves a tarpaulin, a soldier spots a large metal box in one of the trucks.

Sensing possible danger, the soldier doesn't reach for his weapon—instead, he reaches for his Android smartphone.

"What's in the metal box?" he says into the device. There is no phone signal, but the smartphone, running Raytheon's BBN TransTalk app, doesn't need one. It instantly translates his question into the driver's native language.

"Just some blankets and clothing," the driver responds as TransTalk translates.

Exchanges like this are now happening every day as TransTalk and other Raytheon language technologies revolutionize the way militaries and intelligence services work.

Whether it's helping soldiers conduct a patrol or scanning the Internet, new, self-contained programs are bringing down cultural barriers and spotting trouble on the horizon. This week Raytheon will be showing off some of its latest advances in booth 03-A06 at the IDEX trade show in the United Arab Emirates.

Visitors to Raytheon's booth can try out TransTalk and watch Raytheon BBN's Web Monitoring System at work. The monitoring system scans foreign-language websites and provides users with real-time translations.

BBN TransTalk helps to break down the language barrier. It's a simple and interactive way for individuals who don't share a common language to have a conversation," said Dr. Premkumar Natarajan, executive vice president for Raytheon BBN Technologies.

Another product, the Broadcast Monitoring System, monitors live television and radio broadcasts.

The software transcribes audio instantly and translates foreign language content into English, detects when a different person is speaking, and sets aside clips for more analysis whenever certain keywords, phrases and connections come up.

"It creates greater insight into events and popular perceptions across the world," said Dr. Premkumar Natarajan, executive vice president for Raytheon BBN Technologies.

Raytheon's BBN Technologies has a long history of innovations like these and was recently recognized for them when President Obama presented Raytheon BBN with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Read the story.

Last Updated: 12/16/2014

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