Translation app for refugees

Together with DFKI we created a smart translation app for Arabic-speaking refugees in Germany.

DFKI – Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence)
Graphic Design, Mobile App Design, Motion Design, Design-Development, UX Design
6 months with 3 people
Multi-language interface for Arabic mobile design


How can Arabic-speaking refugees in Germany communicate in complex situations without speaking the German language?


Based on DFKI’s language technology, Eatch designed a translation app providing predefined sentences for specific situations that users can choose from. The app creates a dialogue by functioning as a live chat with the device being passed between the speakers who can reply in their native languages.


The app helps refugees to communicate in the appropriate tone and to avoid misunderstandings in complex situations. Additionally, it helps making new contacts in everyday situations by breaking down common language barriers.

Sven Schmeier DFKI

“With Eatch we had the perfect partner in the Fahum and Yocoy projects. They brought our technical backend to the users via an intuitive and easy to handle App for iOS and Android. It got positive feedback from all sides and the numbers of downloads and usage re-confirmed this. The feedback by refugees for the Fahum app was very positive, too. Eatch worked closely with our developers and we were happy to find a team this committed, the achieved results speak for themselves. We have been working with Eatch for more than 5 years, making our research comprehensible and usable through user-friendly interfaces.”

— Dr. Sven Schmeier, Associate Head of Speech and Language Technology Department at DFKI

Please click on the Play-button to start the video. We would like to point out that data will be transmitted to the respective provider.

The Arabic word “fahum” translates to “understanding”. By translating from Arabic to German and vice versa, the app helps Arabic-speaking refugees in Germany to communicate, even if not proficient of the German or English language. Users can choose from flexible dialogue building blocks and enter questions, thoughts and informations in their first language that are then translated for their conversation partner.


The app helps communicating in complex situations. Possible use cases are functioning as an interpreter at public offices or understanding the diagnosis of a doctor correctly. Fahum covers a range of situations:

  • Arrival – Border, police station
  • Public authorities – Job center, Federal Agency for Migration, Foreigners’ Registration Office, Administrative Office for Citizens, Social Welfare Department
  • Accommodation – Reception center for Immigrants, apartment search, registration
  • Social – Bank, insurance, kindergarten/school, language course, leisure
  • Women – Gender-specific issues
  • Emergency – Health, accident, fire, conflict, lost things, police
  • and more everyday situations

The predefined sentences help using the right diction. During the development of the app the team paid special attention on finding the appropriate tonality for sentences in both languages in order to avoid misunderstandings.

The interaction works as follows: After a sentence has been chosen by the Arabic-speaking user, the phone (or tablet) is handed over to the German speaker. The latter can then choose from a given set of answers. Additionally, an option for free translation is provided. Own sentences can be typed or spoken for the app to translate them, including speech output.

The project is a collaboration of the DFKI – German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Yocoy and Eatch. The DFKI was responsible for the project management and software development, speech technology was provided by Yocoy. Eatch was in charge of UX design, interface design and prototyping. Fahum was developed and tested together with Syrian refugees.

The app is available on iOS and Android. Additionally, we also set up an online portal with important information for refugees in Germany and the possibility for collaboration.

User interface design for the mobile app Fahum
Icon set for messenger interface on iOS app
Mobile app for refugees on a smartphone
Mobile design for Arabic-German translation app for refugees

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