Feb. 24, 2003 HAIFA, Israel and NEW YORK, February 19, 2003 -- Though you may think you already get enough back talk, before long your computer will also talk back to you. But in this case the goal will be to make your life less stressful.
OPCAT, a new software translation tool developed at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology enables those not versed in the languages of computers to communicate with them either verbally through spoken or written language, or graphically through diagrams. When one chooses the verbal route, OPCAT translates the user's input into diagrams; conversely, if one inputs graphics, OPCAT translates them into natural spoken language. This allows even average users to make programming changes themselves, whether it's simplifying a purchase order or merchandise return process, improving an air traffic control system, or redesigning an automotive part. Moreover, OPCAT eliminates waits of days or months for software developers to design the systems needed to make such changes.
Calling OPCAT "the next quantum leap in computer programming," its developer, Professor Dov Dori of the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who is also a research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims that in time it could eliminate the need for programmers, much as draftsmen were rendered obsolete by computer aided design (CAD), and typists by word processing software.
"Programmers translate the design of a system to actual code, but OPCAT generates code automatically from the model, so there is less need for programmers -- and a huge saving in time and money" says Professor Dori.
OPCAT's ability to understand and translate both spoken and graphic input meets the needs of those who prefer verbal communication and those who are more technically oriented and prefer looking at diagrams. "Furthermore, the system can slip back and forth between graphics and text, so it's not necessary to stick with one mode. You can start with graphics, then go to text and edit it, and the changes will be immediately reflected in the diagram."
Mark Richer, principal engineering systems & applications architect at Pratt & Whitney Canada, echoes Dori's enthusiasm.
"I used the first generation of OPCAT tools to create a formal analysis of complex concepts specific to the aerospace industry," says Richer. "It resulted in the generation of hundreds of Object-Process Diagrams and thousands of Object-Process Language statements. Doing this with traditional analysis techniques would have been inconceivable," he said.
To date, a number of large corporations including Pratt & Whitney Canada, Ford Motor Company and IBM have been evaluating or adopting OPCAT technology.
Professor Dori sees OPCAT eventually changing the way all users interact with computers, but says its first application is in industry. The program's universality enables it to be applied to any system, be it social, technological or physical. It can be used to analyze the makeup of a distant star, the layout of a production line, or to make changes in an online catalog -- all without a programmer.
Containing an acronym within an anonym, OPCAT stands for Object-Process CASE (Computer Aided Systems Engineering) Tool. It is based on Dori's Object Process Methodology (OPM), a concept that views everything in the universe as either an object or a process that acts upon the object, thereby changing it.
"Object Process Methodology is powerful because it is generic. It is the way we look at things and how they relate to each other in the universe," Dori says. His book, "Object Process Methodology: A Holistic Systems Paradigm" was published last summer. OPCAT is the tool that computerizes OPM and allows computer aided modeling of the system being developed, he explains.
A U.S. patent is pending on the technology, while OPCAT is undergoing further development for commercialization at the Technion Entrepreneurial Incubator Company. OPCAT can be downloaded for free testing from: http://www.ObjectProcess.org
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel's leading scientific and technological university. It commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel's high-tech companies are alumni. Based in New York City, the American Technion Society is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel, with more than 20,000 supporters and 17 offices around the country.
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