Tag: ASR

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SDL Tados 2021

Kynamics Secures DHS Translation Device Funding

Technology

Back in February, DHS released a solicitation for a robust multilingual translation device. It has awarded ASR and NLP company Kynamics with the opportunity.

Months after an industry-wide solicitation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Kynamics has secured the Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) language translation capabilities funding award. Based in Mountain View, Kynamics specializes in automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language processing (NLP) for mobile devices.

Regarding earlier devices, DHS stated, “the challenge of the USCG system is that it lacks the dynamic/agile robustness to effectively communicate across the spectrum of languages that are emerging across areas that were once more static.”

The award grants Kynamics $192,520 in Phase 1 funding to produce a portable, standalone translation system. The Language Translator solicitation aims to create a device capable of facilitating communication in real time with non-English speakers and those who are unable to communicate verbally. Ideally, the device will support at least 16 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Mandarin, Persian-Iranian, French, German, Haitian-Creole, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. The effort is in support of United States Coast Guard (USCG) missions.

“DHS S&T and SVIP have given the Coast Guard an opportunity to connect with innovative small businesses, such as Kynamics, to develop language translation technology that may enhance operational mission execution,” said Wendy Chaves, Chief of the Coast Guard Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, and Innovation Program.

While performing rescue and investigation missions, Coast Guard operators must be able to accurately communicate in real time with vessel occupants, many of whom are non-English speakers. Furthermore, since USCG personnel are often stationed at sea during extreme weather conditions with no Internet connection, the device must also be able to function offline and withstand temperatures ranging from 140ºF to -50ºF (60ºC to -5ºC).

“We’re excited to see how the Kynamics project unfolds as we move through this first proof-of-concept phase with USCG,” Melissa Oh, SVIP managing director, said. “We’re also delighted to include a minority female-founded company in our portfolio.”

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ASR Tech in Hebrew and Arabic Languages Big Focus for IIA

Technology

The Israel Innovation Authority aims to improve ASR capabilities for Hebrew and Arabic languages, which have largely been left behind in voice recognition technologies.

As automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology improves through cutting edge innovations in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), many developments lack accessibility for a large portion of languages other than English. In particular, languages with unique morphology or complex syntax structures that differ from the languages available to current ASR technologies often face exclusion in new innovation and thus a delay in development using the technologies.

Responding to particular challenges for Hebrew and Arabic languages, the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) and the Israel National Digital Ministry have announced the establishment of the Association of Natural Language Processing (NLP) Technology Companies, an initiative that aims to improve the ASR capability of computerized systems for understanding the Hebrew and Arabic languages.

“The public sector deals with unstructured data in Hebrew and Arabic on a daily basis. One of the major challenges in the digitization of public services is to enable operational efficiency and high productivity while ensuring that such services are free to the public,” said Asher Bitton, the ministry’s director-general.

To cultivate a detailed and complete understanding of the languages in the computerized systems, the association will invest about $2 million in R&D to analyze the syntactic, semantic, and morphological characteristics of the Hebrew and Arabic languages. It will achieve this by deploying collections of Hebrew and Arabic texts from diverse fields, including news, archives, films, books, articles, customer service, transcribed radio and television broadcasts, and professional literature.

“The Association that we established this week will allow Israeli industry to clearly define its needs and help close technological gaps by enabling the use of unstructured databases in Hebrew and Arabic and providing insights which can be harnessed when developing and promoting products and services provided by Israeli companies,” Israel Innovation Authority vice president Aviv Zeevi said in a statement.

The founding members of the association include Intel, Israel-based YNet News, Bank Hapoalim, and AudioCodes Ltd, as well as content creators like Ha’aretz Newspaper, The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (Kan) Television, and The Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Archives.

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KoBo Inc, TWB Develop ASR to Engage Vulnerable Groups

Technology

First modeling languages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, TWB and KoBo Inc will capture the voices of speakers of marginalized groups to develop language technology and data management tools for these groups.

Translators without Borders (TWB) and KoBo Inc. plan to develop automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology to aid humanitarians in the collection of data from speakers of marginalized languages in low-literacy contexts. Funded by the Cisco Foundation, the initiative will contribute to TWB’s ongoing mission to develop language technology for people with low literacy and KoBo’s mission to provide accessible and effective tools for humanitarian data collection and management.

Integrating ASR and speech-to-text mechanisms with a data collection and management tool, the collaborative initiative will enable humanitarians to engage people and conduct assessment on matters like the coronavirus, access to food and water, and what languages they speak and understand.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restricting mobility yet calling for broader language services, humanitarians have struggled to engage with groups living in vulnerable situations. TWB hopes the tool will mitigate some of the difficulties they have faced these past few months.

“We must listen to the voices of people that have historically been marginalized due to the languages they speak,” says Grace Tang, Gamayun program manager at TWB. “This collaboration with Cisco and KoBo Inc. is urgently needed and will help ensure voice recognition technology is a key part of communicating with speakers of marginalized languages and with those who have lower literacy levels, especially during COVID-19.”

Beginning with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, TWB will first model languages like French and Congolese Swahili for the ASR technology. The group plans to collaborate with local researchers to gather a wide range of voices for a collection of basic words. KoBo Inc will the integrate the speech into KoboToolbox, a free and open source suite of tools for field data collection.

“This technology – used responsibly – will ensure that humanitarians process what people are telling them on the ground more effectively” says Kobo co-founder Patrick Vinck. “Feedback from communities is too often ‘lost in translation’ and does not lead to operational changes in humanitarian action.”

The project builds on a successful pilot project funded by the Cisco Foundation, which developed machine translation and open-source language datasets in six additional languages. “The Cisco Foundation is excited to support this scalable, technology-driven initiative that makes sure even the most vulnerable people are heard during the COVID-19 crisis,” says Erin Connor, the Critical Human Needs portfolio manager at the Cisco Foundation. “This new collaboration between TWB and KoBo Toolbox unites two technologies that, together, will help humanitarians better understand the needs of people who speak marginalized languages.”

The project also adds to TWB’s efforts to support speakers of marginalized languages, translating millions of words of COVID-19 information as well as creating a multilingual COVID-19 glossary. TWB has also joined TICO-19, a coalition of academic institutions and industry partners like Amazon, Appen, and Translated to make crisis-related content available through machine translation (MT) models.

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AppTek Wins 2020 AI Breakthrough Award

Language Industry News and Events

Selected as “Best Speech-to-Text Solution” by leading market intelligence organization, AppTek now celebrates a further accolade in an impressive year.

AppTek this week announced that its automatic speech recognition (ASR) solution has been selected as winner of the third annual AI Breakthrough Awards in the “Best Speech-to-Text Solution” category. The company works in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), automatic speech recognition (ASR), neural machine translation (NMT), and natural language understanding (NLU) technologies.

A leading market intelligence organization, AI Breakthrough recognizes top companies, technologies, and products in the global AI market. Senior executives with backgrounds in business, marketing, sales, analytics, and academia make up the judging panel. The award received over 2,750 nominations from over 15 countries globally, and honored select companies for excellence and innovation in artificial intelligence and machine learning categories.

“The AI Breakthrough Award is another milestone achievement in AppTek’s track record,” said AppTek SVP of marketing Kyle Maddock.

AppTek has indeed already claimed several accolades this year, including ranking top in multiple categories for the 17th annual International Workshop on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT 2020), as well as winning its 2020 Speech Technology Award for innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language. The company also released two new applications in speech translation and speech transcription, which were designed to make its speech translation capabilities accessible to more consumers and are available in the Apple App Store.

The news also follows the announcement that AppTek will now partner with Gallaudet University to develop new apps for its deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Integrating AppTek’s ASR platform on one application, say representatives of the company, will incorporate the latest AI and ML technologies to enable assistive service to users on demand.

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Gallaudet University Partners with Apple and AppTek

Business News, Technology

In a moment when universities need the latest technology more than ever, Gallaudet University has announced two important partnerships with Apple and AppTek, which aim to provide its deaf and hard-of-hearing students with tools necessary to succeed in an increasingly technological world.

As the fall term commences, Gallaudet University has announced a couple exciting pieces of news for its deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Gallaudet is a federally chartered private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing located in Washington, D.C. In a statement on Thursday morning, Gallaudet University President Roberta J. Cordano announced that the university would begin a partnership with Apple to improve access and expand academic and career opportunities for Gallaudet students.

In her statement, the president said, “Beginning this fall, Gallaudet will provide all students and faculty with an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and SmartFolio for iPad Pro to support their learning and teaching. Students and teachers at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center will also participate in this new initiative.”

Providing students better access to the most up-to-date technology, the partnership will also establish an Apple scholarship program for students of color with disabilities. The scholarship will go to students pursuing studies in information technology, computer science, and other science, technology, and math related fields.

“Gallaudet has been at the forefront of advancing education and acceptance of Deaf culture in this country for more than 150 years,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We are honored to work together with this incredible institution to create even more opportunities for Gallaudet students and for all underserved and underrepresented communities.”

Furthermore, through the Connected Gallaudet initiative, Gallaudet students will participate in research projects to design bilingual applications. One project in particular was also announced this week, which revealed a partnership between Gallaudet University and AppTek, a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for automatic speech recognition (ASR) and machine translation (MT).

This application aims to provide video conference participants with live closed captions and deliver more control of the user interface (UI), allowing users to enhance the readability of real-time conversation transcripts and enjoy a more meaningful flow of spoken content.

“While much of the world is relying heavily on videoconferencing applications to communicate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, commonly used applications unfortunately do not provide reliable, real-time capabilities that allow deaf and hard of hearing participants to engage fully,” said Mike Veronis, AppTek Chief Revenue Officer and Program Manager for the 21st Century Closed Captioning project. “We are passionate about and humbled at the opportunity to collaborate with Gallaudet on bridging that gap by developing new tools to give the deaf community greater freedom, control, and access to virtual communication.”

Integrating AppTek’s ASR platform, the application will incorporate the latest AI and ML technologies to enable this assistive service, which will be available to users on demand. Over time, Gallaudet also intends to incorporate multilingual capabilities using AppTek’s Multilingual Automatic Speech Recognition and Neural Machine Translation technologies.

Along with new technology and the application development project, Gallaudet University will also grant some students the opportunity to take part in the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (AWDC) through the partnership with Apple. The annual event brings together over 5,000 developers, innovators, and entrepreneurs for engineering sessions, forums, laboratories, and keynote presentations about the latest app and software innovation.

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Jonathan Pyner is a poet, freelance writer, and translator. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade in the US and Taiwan, and he recently completed a master’s of fine arts in creative writing.

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Translated to provide EU Parliament with real-time speech translation AI

AI, Business News

Debates will be transcribed and translated by a new state-of-the-art MT system that keeps humans in the loop

blue and white flags on poleTranslated has been selected by the European Parliament to automatically transcribe and translate parliamentary multilingual debates in real-time, covering the 24 official languages used by the institution. The service will be provided by new software available both through fully-localized web and mobile applications, and live streaming APIs for third-party developers. It it purported to be the first human-in-the-loop speech machine translation (MT) system, and should leverage context and user feedback to adapt the output in less than one second.

The product will be developed in collaboration with two companies that have already worked with Translated in building products for professional translators: Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK), a world-leading research center in MT and automatic speech recognition (ASR); and PerVoice, an ASR world-leading provider. Within the next 12 months, the consortium will release a prototype to be tested by the European Parliament. This solution will be considered alongside solutions provided by two other groups, following rules put forth in “Live Speech to Text and Machine Translation Tool for 24 Languages.” The best-performing tool will be confirmed as the official one for the following two years.

The new product is not a simple concatenation of ASR and MT, but a new, fully-integrated system in which the MT algorithms are tolerant of ASR errors. This approach will not only help deliver more contextualized translations, but it will also open up the opportunity to improve the quality of the output while the plenary session is happening. This is possible thanks to the human correction feedback that the tool allows by both the end-users and a team of professional translators.

“For this project, we are bringing together ten years of research in machine translation and speech recognition,” says Simone Perone, Translated’s vice president of product management. Some of the new AI models that will be used have already been put to work successfully in products such as ModernMT (an MT that improves from corrections and adapts to the context), Matecat (a computer-assisted translation tool that makes post-editing easy), and Matesub (the first subtitling tool offering suggestions during the transcription, now in beta and due to be released in September 2020).

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