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Voice Translators for Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2004
4 pages

This summary report presents results from an evaluation conducted on three voice translators used by law enforcement to provide translations of basic commands in several languages.


Law enforcement officers patrolling areas where English is not the predominant language and are not familiar with the various languages of a non-English speaking suspect benefit from carrying an electronic device which provides translations of basic commands in several languages. This summary report presents the results of an investigation and comparison test for translation accuracy and ability to work in noisy environments of three voice translator devices: (1) the Voice Response Translator (VRT); (2) the Phraselator; and (3) the Universal Translator. In testing for accuracy at various noise levels, five different phrases were chosen from each device’s phrase list. The results indicate that the VRT is the easiest of the three devices to use with the fastest response times and the longest-lived battery. In addition, it was the only one with hands-free capability. However, the VRT does not include the option of stopping the unit when the user realizes the translation is incorrect. In addition, users must train with the device until it recognizes their speech patterns and the unit may need retraining if it does not recognize a phrase spoken by an enrolled user.

Date Published: September 1, 2004