Back in February, DHS released a solicitation for a robust multilingual translation device. It has awarded ASR and NLP company Kynamics with the opportunity.
Months after an industry-wide solicitation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Kynamics has secured the Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) language translation capabilities funding award. Based in Mountain View, Kynamics specializes in automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language processing (NLP) for mobile devices.
Regarding earlier devices, DHS stated, “the challenge of the USCG system is that it lacks the dynamic/agile robustness to effectively communicate across the spectrum of languages that are emerging across areas that were once more static.”
The award grants Kynamics $192,520 in Phase 1 funding to produce a portable, standalone translation system. The Language Translator solicitation aims to create a device capable of facilitating communication in real time with non-English speakers and those who are unable to communicate verbally. Ideally, the device will support at least 16 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Mandarin, Persian-Iranian, French, German, Haitian-Creole, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. The effort is in support of United States Coast Guard (USCG) missions.
“DHS S&T and SVIP have given the Coast Guard an opportunity to connect with innovative small businesses, such as Kynamics, to develop language translation technology that may enhance operational mission execution,” said Wendy Chaves, Chief of the Coast Guard Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, and Innovation Program.
While performing rescue and investigation missions, Coast Guard operators must be able to accurately communicate in real time with vessel occupants, many of whom are non-English speakers. Furthermore, since USCG personnel are often stationed at sea during extreme weather conditions with no Internet connection, the device must also be able to function offline and withstand temperatures ranging from 140ºF to -50ºF (60ºC to -5ºC).
“We’re excited to see how the Kynamics project unfolds as we move through this first proof-of-concept phase with USCG,” Melissa Oh, SVIP managing director, said. “We’re also delighted to include a minority female-founded company in our portfolio.”