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Translation in Motion

Your colleague in Germany thumb-types “Wir benötigen fünf tausend Kondensatoren bis zum Dienstag” into her cell phone. Three seconds later and nine time zones away, the translated text pops up on your Blackberry: “We need five thousand capacitors by Tuesday.” A system that makes this possible – by melding mobile text messaging and e-mail with the latest in machine translation – will be available to wireless subscribers this fall from New York City–based Transclick. For $30 per user per month, multinational corporations will be able to install the software on their employees’ PDAs and smart phones. Workers will then upload country-to-country text messages or e-mails to Transclick’s servers, which render translations using dictionaries customized to their users’ lines of business – say, law or pharmaceuticals.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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