NEC Corp has announced the development of automatic translation software for mobile phones, which can provide Japanese to English translations of phrases useful for travel.

The company tested the software on its "SIMPURE N1" mobile phone, which was released from NTT DoCoMo Inc in 2006, and confirmed its successful operation, NEC said.

For processing, the software does not require a server or any other external devices but only a processor for mobile phones. If a Japanese phrase is spoken into the handset, the text of the phrase will be displayed on the screen using voice recognition.

It takes about one second for a voice recognition result to be displayed after the phrase is spoken. Then, if translation is commanded, the text will be translated into English and displayed in about one second.

The software consists of a voice recognition engine, a translation engine and the middleware that controls these two engines. The voice recognition engine is based on NEC's proprietary voice recognition technology. According to NEC, the depth and the amount of information used for voice recognition were optimized based on the performance of the processing resources, such as the processor and the memory embedded in the handset.

This technical effort resulted in a reduction of resource use to about half the amount used by a translation software for PCs, while maintaining the speed and the precision of voice recognition almost equivalent to those of PC software, according to NEC.

The translation engine is NEC's proprietary technology downsized for mobile phone application. Through the optimization of data structure and the revision of dictionary content, among other efforts, the engine maintained the equivalent precision of translation yet almost halved the size of dictionary and task files, compared with translation software for PCs, NEC said.

The middleware that controls the voice recognition and translation engines allows the translation capability to be accessed and used though other mobile phone applications such as mailer and browser, added NEC.