We built an Arabic-German translation app.

Julian Masuhr

From translation to communication

Play video

“Fahum” translates as “understanding” in arabic. The app is designed for Arabic speaking migrants and translates sentences for common situations. Possible use cases could be replacing an interpreter at public institutions and departments or finding the exact issue to get the right diagnosis from a doctor.


To make intercultural communication work it is not only important to transfer the content correctly but to hit the right tone and diction. During the development of the translation app there was special attention on forming the right sentences and on avoiding misunderstandings of language.

The app works like common chat applications, but with the difference of having already correctly translated sentences that can be chosen from to communicate. By selecting one the sentence will be translated. The speech output is also very helpful for the correct pronunciation. The phone is then handed over to a second person, that can choose from a given set of fitting answers. This creates an experience of commonality, in which both participants are equally unable to talk but yet able to break language barriers by using “Fahum”.

Additionally we also set up an online portal with important information for refugees in Germany and the possibility for interactive collaboration (www.fahum.de).

The app was developed and tested together with syrian refugees. It’s available on iOS and Android. The project is a collaboration of the DFKI – German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (www.dfki.de) and the two companies Yocoy (www.yocoy.com) and Eatch Interactive (www.eatch.com). Where the DFKI did the project management and software development, it was Yocoy that provided the speech technology. Eatch Interactive took over the responsibility for user experience concept, interface design and branding of the app.