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Voice Recognition Evaluation Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2003
54 pages

This study investigated and compared three voice translator units: the Phraselator, Voice Response Translator (VRT), and the Universal Translator (UT-103).


The study focused on each unit's performance capabilities, including operation within noisy environments, ease of use/learning, and other operational characteristics such as battery life. The Phraselator was part of the one-way translation effort of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); it covers medical and military phrases (search, checkpoint, and interrogation). The Universal Translator is a commercial system designed to provide translation capability in the contexts of transportation and other tourist-type interactions. It translates English into common European languages to address interactions that pertain to planes, luggage, rail, taxi, and restaurant-ordering phrases. The VRT is a system currently used by law enforcement and the Coast Guard. The phraseology covers search, questioning, and commands. After considering testing results and unit behavior during testing, the VRT was found to be the easiest to use and the least intrusive of the devices. The Phraselator ranked second, and the Universal Translator was found to be better suited for tourist travel. The main advantage of the VRT is the fact that no user intervention is required for operation. After turning on the unit and setting the phrase group (Coast Guard in the testing), the user simply talks to the unit. The VRT was the fastest unit, with response times of less than a second. The battery life for the VRT was greater than for the other two units. One disadvantage of the VRT is the absence of a "panic button" or mechanism to prevent the unit from broadcasting a phrase that had been incorrectly read. 38 tables, 1 figure, and appended out-of-the-box test results for Phraselator and response time tables for each unit

Date Published: October 1, 2003