Magazine article National Defense

Companies Shifting Language Aids, Trainers to iPods, Handheld PCs

Magazine article National Defense

Companies Shifting Language Aids, Trainers to iPods, Handheld PCs

Article excerpt

For U.S. troops in Iraq, communicating in Arabic soon may be as simple as playing a tune on an iPod.

A software program, called VCOM Mobile, enables troops to select preloaded English phrases on iPods and display the corresponding sentences in a foreign language. Users can play an audio clip of the phrase and pull up an avatar, or computerized character, on screen to speak and gesture the phrase.

The program comes equipped with 20 military missions, ranging from vehicle control point and cordon and search to patrol, meet and greet and medical triage. Users scroll through those missions and select the appropriate one for access to numerous phrases.

At a vehicle checkpoint, for example, they can choose sentences, such as, "Please get out of the car," "May I see your I.D.?" and "You are free to go."

The technology is intended as a language assistant, to not only act as an interpreter for troops on the ground, but also as a trainer. "We think of it as a job aid. It can be used for learning but also doing your job," says Carol Wideman, president and CEO of VCom3D Inc. of Orlando, Fla., which created the program. VCOM Mobile runs on any device that uses Flash video, such as PDAs and cell phones.

The language software was originally developed by VCom3D under the auspices of the Department of Education. …

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