23 January 2014

European Software Companies need a Language Cloud

The high reply rate in a recent survey amongst LT-Innovate members calls for a European Language Cloud.

Language Technology firms experience a strong growth and almost all are hiring.

Companies need language technology to communicate with their increasingly global customer base. Moreover, the data revolution and advances in human-machine interaction depend on understanding natural languages. Unfortunately Europe’s SMEs struggle to satisfy this striking demand. Many software innovations, but also basic functions such as search, work only well in English. Whoever works with languages faces soon the demand for supporting many languages... or to remain a small national player. Many EU institutions, for example, demand the equal support of their 24 official languages.

Support for many languages is cost-prohibitive, because it has to be developed individually per language. No surprise that an overwhelming majority of the industry would thus make use of a basic language infrastructure which provides features such as lemmatization or named entity detection. Higher level functions and services face some skepticism, since they might be competing with commercial offers. However, judging by the percentage of companies ready to use a cloud service and the fact that they are willing to pay a price for using it (preferably to a non-profit organisation), the need for a Language Cloud appears to be well established.

Hardly any European company can address all language needs of global customers. Besides the technical infrastructure, many LT-Innovate members thus share the vision of the European Language Cloud as a SaaS wrapper. They want to provide and monetize their specific capability while leveraging components of other providers.

What are your views? Please share them with us by commenting on this article!

Jochen Hummel, Chairman of the Board of Directors, LT-Innovate - CEO, ESTeam

See survey results.

21 January 2014

CABI Automates its Semantic Enrichment Process and Interlinks its Content with TEMIS's Luxid®

CABI chooses the best-in-class semantic content enrichment solution to enhance its content, boost audience engagement, and strategically expand its product line.

TEMIS, the leading provider of Semantic Content Enrichment solutions has signed a strategic agreement with CABI, an inter-governmental, not-for-profit organization providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

Two key trends that CABI faces as a major publisher of scientific information are the exponential growth rate of the volume of published articles on one hand, and on the other the emergence of the "Web of Data", which is shaping a demand for more structured data products in addition to traditional information products based on content.

To address these trends, CABI has decided to optimize its content indexing which was previously primarily manual, by integrating TEMIS's Luxid® Content Enrichment Platform in its content management workflow. CABI's first objective is to make efficiency gains through automation and reduce indexing costs associated with the increase of content volumes while ensuring high levels of metadata quality. The rich semantic metadata extracted from its content will enable more sophisticated search, navigation and discovery tools on CABI's online portals, promoting greater user engagement. Luxid®'s semantic enrichment pipeline will furthermore enable the extraction from text of structured information as well as semantic relationships, enabling CABI to create linked data products connected to the larger Web of Data.

"As a database publisher with many decades of experience in metadata and content indexing, we are very excited to be working with TEMIS to take our semantic enrichment endeavors to a whole new level. This will allow us to improve existing products, but more importantly to create new value from the rapidly growing content assets within our portfolio. We see this as a major step towards achieving our goal to be the world's leading source of knowledge and insights in agriculture and related disciplines," said Andrea Powell, Executive Director, Publishing, CABI.

16 January 2014

The Future of Travel: Translation Apps

If you’ve travelled you’ve had this experience. The one where you awkwardly fumble a half formed sentence in a language you can’t really speak. You mix a bit of English in with the other language and hope through exaggerated hand gestures and repeating yourself in a loud voice, that somehow the language barrier will be breached. 

One day such embarrassments will be a thing of the past, and that day is not far off. Both iOS and Windows Phone have some great apps for translating speech in real time. It’s kind of like the universal translator from Star Trek or the Babel fish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Google announced they were moving in this direction over a year ago, developing real time speech translation apps for Android and iOS. Eventually they intend to release an app which can translate phone conversations as they happen.

The iOS app Sendboo has a free version available with ads or a paid version without. It can translate over 30 languages. There are still problems with distinguishing between speech and background noise, and poor internet connection can cause lag, but these problems will inevitably be overcome with time. Windows Phone has an equivalent app called Translator with Speech from Brillisoft. It costs £2.29 and has now comes with a load of new language packs, making a total of 54. You speak into the mouthpiece and it speaks the translation right back at you. Technology like this will change the way we think about global travel. The new languages include Afrikaans, Arabic, Hebrew, and Malay in version 2.2 (only for Windows Phone 8).

You can access all of the languages as long as long you have a connection. For those tricky times when there’s no internet, you can use the offline option which includes 10 pre-installed language files with popular tourist phrases like "Where's the toilet".  The app also saves your translated words so that you don’t need to connect to hear them again.

Whichever operating system you use, you can probably get a great translation app for your phone already. The really exciting stuff is just around the corner and will change the face of translation technology as we know it. But no matter how advanced translation technology gets, it will never bring about an absolutely perfect translation between languages because no such thing really exists. 

It takes a human mind to understand the nuances of language and intended meaning. These apps might be great for ordering food on holiday, but you can’t use them in an international business meeting or to translate literature. I don’t imagine professional translators will be out of a job anytime in the near future.

Guest blog from Tom Rowsell, a technology and language geek who works for EmpowerLingua translations. They have a blog on their website which keeps you up to date with the latest in the field of translations and interpreting services.