Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said Monday it has developed bidirectional speech translation technology for Japanese and Chinese that can be used in compact mobile devices such as cellular phones.

The software, jointly developed by Matsushita Research Institute of Tokyo and the Chinese Academy of Science Institute of Automation in Beijing, is aimed at business travelers who demand light, compact and easy-to-use devices, said the company.

When a user speaks a phrase in Japanese or Chinese, the mobile device will emit the spoken translation, the company said. The newly developed technology, which can translate 1,000 basic phrases and has a 10,000-word vocabulary, transcends the inherent difficulties and memory requirements in Chinese-to-Japanese speech translation, the company said.

Although software capable of Japanese-to-Chinese speech translation is already available for personal computers, translating Chinese into Japanese is technically difficult due to the variety of Chinese syllables.

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