Originally Published MPMN October 2005
Originally Published MPMN October 2005
PROFILEAEDs Offered in Many Languages
Product Development Program Manager
Philips Medical Systems
|HeartStart AEDs are compatible with a variety of languages.|
(click to enlarge)
When sudden cardiac arrest strikes, there is no warning. And it can strike in Paris, Madrid, or Berlin just as often as in Los Angeles. A nursing home employee, plant worker, or basketball coach can be thrust into a lifesaving role at a moment's notice. Each must be able to respond quickly and effectively to the emergency situation, whatever his or her native language.
With this in mind, Philips Medical Systems (Bothell, WA; www.medicalphilips.com/main) created its HeartStart Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to be compatible with a variety of languages.
From their inception, the central premise of the AEDs has been that potentially lifesaving technology normally associated with a hospital can be portable and accessible to a wide variety of users, not just medical experts. However, to ensure that people across the world could easily use its AEDs, Philips had to be thorough when embarking on a translation project. There is no room for translation error when a life is at stake.
It is important that any translation is not only medically correct, but understandable to a wide base of users with varied levels of training. To create each new language version of the AEDs, all documentation, voice prompts, and ancillary materials had to be translated and localized into the selected target languages. Moreover, each localized version had to be thoroughly tested to make sure that all language components display the correct text and play the correct audio prompts.
Once the business decision was made to offer AEDs in a number of languages, Philips partnered with Translations.com (New York City; www.translations.com), which has had extensive experience in localizing medical device software, including more than 50 projects for Philips. Medical device localization involves more than just the accurate translation of text. The challenges a company faces when embarking on a translation and localization project may differ widely depending on the target languages and the scope of the project.
When Philips embarked on translation for its AEDs, it faced a number of challenges. The first was how to display text on the screen. Space for text is often a problem because equivalent expressions in other languages take up more room than the original English. This is especially true for character languages like Chinese. To effectively localize the text of a medical device display, these issues must be addressed up front in order to avoid costly delays. Philips worked with Translations.com to develop a custom algorithm to present bitmaps as pictorial items on a screen that could not support Unicode text.
Philips also had to navigate cultural and historical idiosyncrasies. It was important to know which localized language needed to be used when the company made its AEDs for the Chinese-speaking population. Because different dialects are used in different parts of Chinese-speaking countries, the team had to be extremely sensitive to these language differences when translating the text and voice on the defibrillators. By localizing the translation to each region, they were able to successfully target each demographic. Philips currently offers three voice versions of the AED in two different Chinese character sets.
The rapid collection of all hardware, software, text, and voice elements for a successful AED launch is complex and always time-critical. Philips relied on Translations.com throughout the project for additional services, such as managing input from Philips technical and sales teams and merging it with the ongoing localization efforts, managing additional user validation tests by outside language experts, and assistance with final end-item preparation and shipment release, working with Philips in-house.
Philips HeartStart AEDs are currently available in more than 14 different languages including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, Japanese, Arabic, Danish, and Greek.
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