Asian Governments Seek to Bridge Language Gaps

January 31, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


Asian governments are pouring money into a technology that would bridge the language gap and render the need to be multi-lingual obsolete. 

Linguists from nearly every Asian country have developed an iPhone app called U-STAR.  The goal of the app is to ingest speech from the most common languages and spit out a translation into another language on the spot.  Better yet, it’s free of charge to anyone with a cell phone signal. The application includes all the major languages including; English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and more.

“That’s the idea of U-STAR,” said Chai Wutiwiwatchai, head of a language lab in Thailand. “And it’s open source. Free of charge. No problems with intellectual property.”

The software is the result of seven years of research funded by more than 20 Asian governments.  Since then institutes from 24 governments, including some in Europe, have jumped on board.  

While U-STAR still has a ways to go before it’s a perfect solution, it is a step in the right direction of liberating people worldwide from language barriers. This problem is especially apparent in Asia, where each country is dense with various languages and scripts.  

Considering the system is far from perfect, linguists are far from ready to portray U-STAR as a fix-it option. “Sure, you can use it if you really need it. In a situation where no one can help you translate,” Tao said.

More information about U-STAR can be found at the following article; 



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