Lotus Hot on Language Conversion for Messages

SAN MATEO (05/26/2000) - This summer, a partnership between Lotus Development Corp. and Transparent Language will give corporate users of Lotus Notes and Lotus SameTime instant messaging technology the ability to translate e-mails and instant messages into five European languages on the fly, according to officials at the two companies.

Transparent Language will offer the product, which functions as a Lotus Domino Server component, in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Chinese and Japanese versions are in the works.

Corning Cable Systems, formerly Siecor, in Hickory, North Carolina, is currently testing the capability and will most likely be the first company to roll it out to its 14,000 employees this August.

Lotus originally announced a translation component that connects the Domino server to leading translation servers and subsequently named deals with five companies late last month.

The companies included in the deals were Alis Technologies Inc., Transparent Language, Lernout & Hauspie, WorldPoint Interactive Inc., and Sentius Corp.

Also, IBM Corp. has had plans to use the functionality in its Websphere Web commerce platform.

The product uses what is known as machine-translation technology. While this technology will allow a reader to get the gist of a message rather than a complete and accurate translation of the text, the benefits of any program that can help employees in a global organization communicate are obvious, according to Steve Kelly, manager of IS at Corning Cable Systems.

"We are just now installing the product and doing demonstrations," Kelly said.

"We are hoping the product will help us translate documents from English to German and help speed up the process," Kelly added.

However, according to one industry analyst, machine translations of e-mails and instant messages are even more problematic than translating more formal documents.

"People tend to use colloquial language in e-mails, and it's even worse with instant messages. The key word in this is 'gist.' As long as you set your expectations at the level where you know it is only giving you an idea of what the message is about, it should speed communications," said Steve McClure, a research vice president at IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

McClure added that Transparent Language does a pretty good job of translating colloquial language.

The Lotus Translation Component in conjunction with the translation engine will let Lotus e-mail and instant messaging users click on a single button for an instant translation. The instant messaging component will also let Notes users of SameTime communicate with America Online Inc.'s instant messaging plug-in.

In related news, Lotus also is developing Palm Inc. OS, Win CE, and cell phone technology for accessing e-mails, calendaring, and schedule applications from a wireless device that would access a Domino server.

Lotus' wireless component now supports paging devices.

Internationally, Lotus' mobile division is developing an e-mail plug-in that will work on the NTT Communications DoCoMo Ltd. iMode phone, which has 10 million users worldwide.

Lotus Development Corp., in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can be reached at www.lotus.com. Transparent Language, in Merrimack, New Hampshire, can be reached at www.transparent language.com.

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