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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: Machine Translation and Chat: Lotus Sametime Translation

A Collaborative User Experience Project:

Machine translation is an established technology, some 40 years in the making. The technology of today—real-time, online conversation—is experiencing tremendous growth as the World Wide Web spreads. Lotus Translation Services for Sametime (LTSS), a product developed by the Lotus International Products Division, brings together these old and new technologies to meet a need created by the expanding global online community.

LTSS adds a multilingual collaboration capability to Lotus Sametime. Each participant in a Sametime chat or conference can choose which language to read and which to write. A separate Translation Console window shows the conversation and its translation and provides a dictionary to allow participants to look up words and phrases that need further translation.

Testing in the Lotus Usability Lab suggested that as the technology improves, people would like to have everything in one window. As a result, Lotus Research has been investigating other ways of displaying translated chat. Our prototype is a Java Sametime Connect client that integrates the translation into the Sametime user interface: translated text is displayed in the Sametime chat window. In addition, we have added the ability to hear spoken translations.

In the future, we want to use our prototype in further usability testing to find answers to the following questions: Does translation integrated in the Sametime chat window enhance multilingual collaboration, especially in a business context? What is the most effective way to display translation? Is the imperfect technology of machine translation available today adequate for chat?