Voices of/for Customers
We all know about the fashionable concept of ‘voice of the customer’. But how about inventing a ‘voice of the supplier’ or even the physically voiceless? European speech innovators, faced with massive multilinguality and acutely attuned to demographics and dialect, are leading the field in synthesising voices to boost speech interaction. Acapela Group has joined forces with AssistiveWare to provide synthetic children’s voices for those who cannot speak, integrating them into an app for use on phones. At the same time, CereProc has extended its voice portfolio with two new voices of different genders and accents to developers who need to build more personalised voice applications. Like Acapela, CereProc works in the assistive field to help disability, but then builds on this experience to open up its technology to a broader range of applications. As well as the expanding voice market on mobile devices, the e-book phenomenon offers a fast-growing market for text-to-speech applications.
Leveraging the language long tail
Google last week announced funding for a new project (covered in Common Sense Advisory’s Global Watchtower blog) dedicated to saving endangered languages. The idea is to record, collect and manage audio and video data of speakers of these tongues. It forms part of a more global semi-coordinated effort between academia, private foundations and other sponsors to act quickly to preserve this critical component of the human heritage. In a slightly different move, the translation technology facilitator TAUS is taking the lead in ways of generating more translations between as many human languages as possible, including the resource-poor languages that Google will be supporting. One solution is the pivot language strategy that creates new data resources by linking two languages via a common intermediary. Google’s collection effort should be able to help TAUS’ production model by using recorded (and transcribed) data as the basis for training a translation engine. And then swarming the bilingual translation process across many pairs of languages.
Analysts say that UK, Spain, France, Germany, and Italy have turned into nations of digital shopkeepers. They accounted for 60% of the European online retail market last year. But Russia is set to grab 30% of this market by 2016, according to companiesandmarkets.com