MAITS: A Summary

Project Summary

For effective and productive multilingual communication, users must be able to interact with telematics services in the language, character set, and cultural environment of their choice, and to switch between them. Yet, despite explosive growth world-wide, current telematic services offer no standardized way of representing, manipulating, and displaying multilingual data. The participation of non-native speakers of English in the coming Information Society is particularly impeded by this situation. Consequently there is a wide, pressing, and largely unmet demand for tools and software which can lower the linguistic barrier.

Project Objectives

Various solutions for dealing with locales and character sets already exist, notably from the X/Open consortium. MAITS aims to integrate and extend these many disparate technologies in an integrated, unified whole. To this end, MAITS will develop an Application Programming Interface (API), covering four language processing levels:

- Character set conversion between client and server
- Transliteration and locales
- Simple translation of stored text strings
- Access to machine translation

The MAITS API will then be demonstrated in a number of key Telematics applications, such as X.400, X.500, exmh, WWW, and Sybase, in multiple languages in multiple countries. Consortium members will also participate actively in the relevant standards bodies.

User Community

As developers and suppliers of Telematics solutions, MAITS partners represent the first users of the technology. The User Group includes telematics service operators and their clients, software developers, and Telematics content providers. In the long term, MAITS may encompass potentially all users of X.400 and internet electronic mail, X.500 directory services, and the World Wide Web. The MAITS API may also be used by independent software vendors for internationalized products.

Application Scenario

A typical MAITS application scenario covers a user working with a PC or Mac, accessing information held on a server under a different encoding scheme. In many cases, accented characters would be incorrectly displayed without codeset conversion. At the lowest level, a MAITS-enabled application would undertake this conversion transparently. At higher levels, Greek text, for example, could be transliterated by MAITS into Latin characters, keywords could be translated for directory searches, and machine translation invoked to process results.

Progress and results

The expected result of the MAITS project is a greater degree of communication between users of different languages, and a greater degree of openness to data in different geographic locations, different encodings, different scripts, and different languages.


X.400, X.500, a WWW browser, and application development tools will be created and marketed as a result of MAITS. Sybase and NEXOR will include MAITS in their product line. It is also expected that the standards resulting from MAITS will become widely accepted in the standards and Telematics communities.

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Text: Iain Urquhart 1995-09-07. HTML: Michael Everson 1995-09-10.

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