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DHS S&T funds San Jose startup to customize language translator for Coast Guard


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded myLanguage of San Jose, California, $199,592 in Phase 1 funding to adapt and customize its language translation platform to support the Coast Guard.

“We look forward to working with myLanguage as they develop language translation solutions to enhance safe and efficient Coast Guard missions,” said Wendy Chaves, Coast Guard Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Innovation Program chief.

Coast Guard operators must be able to communicate with vessel occupants – many who may be non-English speakers – while performing a variety of rescue and investigation missions. Accurate and swift translation of information is critical to the safety and security of Coast Guard boarding teams and vessel occupants. S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) Language Translator topic call sought new capabilities to support the Coast Guard in facilitating real-time communication with non-English speakers and those who are unable to communicate verbally. The solicitation also included requirements for the language translation technology to be capable of operating both online and offline because many Coast Guard interactions take place in extreme environmental conditions in locations without cell service or internet connection.

The current myLanguage platform is an online and offline voice-to-text speech recognition and text-to-text translation system that employs deep learning and artificial intelligence. In Phase 1, myLanguage will adapt its voice translation technologies for use in a rugged, hand-held mobile device that can withstand extreme temperatures and customize model designs and training language models to fit Coast Guard use cases.

“The focus of the myLanguage technology is to enable fluent conversations across language barriers,” said Melissa Oh, SVIP managing director. “This Phase 1 funding enables myLanguage to expand their product capabilities for commercialization and provide the Coast Guard with an innovative technology that strengthens operator safety and mission outcomes.”

SVIP projects move to Phase 2

DHS SVIP also recently awarded several Phase 2 contracts to companies working on different technologies that could bolster mission execution. Companies are expected to demonstrate their prototypes at the end of this award period.

Two Phase 2 contracts were awarded under the SVIP Language Translator topic call:

  • TranslateLive was awarded a $200,000 contract that runs through Jan. 27, 2022.
  • Kynamics was awarded a $199,622 contract that runs through May 28, 2022.

Two Phase 2 contracts were awarded under a Maritime Object Tracking Technology (MOTT) topic call. The goal of the MOTT topic call is development of a more reliable tracking system for accurately marking and monitoring suspicious packages, oil spills, hazardous substances and dangerous debris that needs to be recovered or cleared from the seas and waterways. This technology would be used for drug interdiction, search and rescue, and disaster response.

  • Kenautics was awarded a $198,370 contract that runs through May 2, 2022.
  • Morcom International was awarded a $200,000 contract that runs through June 26, 2022.

Companies participating in SVIP are eligible for up to $800,000 of funding over four phases to develop and adapt commercial technologies for homeland security use cases.

For more on Coast Guard R&D: Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Innovation pages.