The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded an $850,000 Fast-Track Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Fluential Inc.
Fluential, a provider of 2-way speech-to-speech translation systems, will develop a speech translation system that enables hospital nurses to communicate with Spanish- and Cantonese-speaking patients. According to Fluential, it will create the speech translation system using S-MINDS, originally developed for the U.S. military, in collaboration with a major San Francisco-based medical center.
Fast-Track grants are awarded in two phases. In Phase 1, slated for completion in June 2007, Fluential's system will enable nurses to complete common tasks with their Spanish-speaking patients. Phase 2, to be completed by the end of 2008, will enable a comprehensive range of nurse-patient interactions in both Spanish and Cantonese.
This system is not expected to eliminate the need for medical interpreters, says Fluential, but is predicted to handle 80-90 percent of a nurse's routine communication needs.
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