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Language Technology News for 2008

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EC-funded MultiMatch project created state-of-the-art search technology for cultural heritage information
European researchers are pushing online culture and heritage research way beyond Google by using a smart search system that is multilingual, multimedia and optimised for cultural heritage. Better yet, this promising system has wide application in other fields. European researchers have developed an optimised search system that can access an enormous quantity of cultural heritage resources that reside online. Current technology like Google takes a scattergun approach, dishing up dozens of links of sometimes variable quality.
On December 18th, the Dictaphone brand turned 100
On December 18, Nuance Communications celebrated the centennial of the Dictaphone brand, which it acquired in 2006. Dictaphone’s acquisition not only brought Nuance into the healthcare arena, but also brought a sense of legacy and history. The parent company, not even 20 years old, is fairly young by comparison to Dictaphone’s 100 years. In its 100 years, Dictaphone has recorded its share of history. It was used in code-breaking during World War II, recording enemy communiqués; it recorded Neil Armstrong’s famous first words on the moon; was used by President Lyndon Johnson in his inauguration on Air Force One; and even famously recorded the sounds of John F. Kennedy's assassination that led to Johnson's presidency. The Dictaphone brand name has a long and historied past. The name was copyrighted by the Columbia Gramaphone Co., forbearer to Columbia Records, in 1907. The first Dictaphones Columbia produced were essentially combination lathe and gramophone players that cut out their recordings into synthetic wax cylinders.
IBM scientists and five universities collaborate to create electronic circuits that mimic the brain
This impressive research endeavor is termed ‘cognitive computing’ and will incorporate the knowledge of neurobiologists, computer and materials’ scientists and psychologists. Realizing the potential of the application that could be utilized for large-scale data analysis, decision making or even image recognition, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding what is known as the SyNAPSE program with a $4.9 million grant. The final objective of this venture is a system that has the complexity level of a cat's brain. "The mind has an amazing ability to integrate ambiguous information across the senses, and it can effortlessly create the categories of time, space, object, and interrelationship from the sensory data," says Dharmendra Modha, the IBM scientist who is heading the collaboration. "There are no computers that can even remotely approach the remarkable feats the mind performs," he said. "The key idea of cognitive computing is to engineer mind-like intelligent machines by reverse engineering the structure, dynamics, function and behavior of the brain."
Translationspal – A New Web Company Announces Innovative Human Translation In Real Time Platform
TranslationsPal is a fast and user-friendly ONLINE IN REAL TIME translation service, designed with simplicity and functionality in mind, for both business and personal users who require quality and cost-effectiveness and can’t rely on inaccurate computer translations. Its key benefit is that the service is not only provided in real time, but there is actual input by human translators. That is, you submit a text through the site and then it is directly assigned to a translator that will begin working on it. When the finished piece is ready you will be provided a link in order to review it. “This new web service is a flexible solution for any translation needs. Why flexible? TranslationsPal supports 41 languages which means a great number of language pairs! We have a worldwide network of over 600 qualified translators available.
GlobalSight to open Translation Management System to everyone
For those of you that brushed off the idea of open source translation management, or never dared to dream of something so too-good-to-be-true, hold on to your hats because Christmas has come early. Sponsored by Welocalize, GlobalSight for Clay Tablet 2.0 is set to release on January 5th as the first open source translation management system ever.As you probably know, an important element of content management is translation management. Companies want to be able to communicate with as many different people as possible, and most of them do that by using a translation management system that works in conjunction with their CMS.
Competing attemts to unite people's online social networks end up sowing more division
MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg--people are tired of entering the same information over and over again, every time they join a new social-networking site. Many social-site operators announced efforts to solve the problem by creating tools that make users' information portable. But as these products have started to roll out, trying to keep up with them all has saddled websites with extra engineering. Google announced that people would be able to use its Friend Connect service to export data to the popular microblogging service Twitter. But according to a post by Twitter cofounder Biz Stone on the company's official blog, Twitter plans to play nice with several networks: Google, Facebook, and MySpace. The post notes, however, that enabling interoperability with all three services will require a "significant development effort on our [Twitter's] part." Nor does the post say when that effort is likely to be complete.
Google brings Cross-Language Translation to Search Appliance
Many enterprise search vendors offer their search software in multiple languages to help workers all over the world sift through corporate documents in sales, human resources and other areas. Google Enterprise Labs, an effort Google launched in 2007 to test potential enhancements to its enterprise search products, has taken the polylingual concept up a notch by providing a Cross-Language Search feature in its Google Search Appliance.The feature instantly translates search queries for internal company documents, sent from users' PCs to the GSA, in any of 34 languages, Cyrus Mistry, Google Enterprise product manager and Enterprise Labs creator, told eWEEK.
Nepomuk: Semantic sense for the desktop
People naturally group information by topic and remember relationships between important things, like a person and the company where she works. But enabling computers to grasp these same concepts has been the subject of long-standing research. Recently, this has focused on the Semantic Web, but a European endeavor called the Nepomuk Project will soon see the effort take new steps onto the PC in the form of a "semantic desktop." Those working on the project, coordinated by the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), have been toiling for three years to create software that can spot meaningful connections between the files on a computer. Nepomuk's software is available for several computer platforms and now comes as a standard component of the K Desktop Environment (KDE), a popular graphical interface for the Linux operating system.
Thumbtack: A Bookmarking Service from Microsft
Live Labs, part of the Microsoft Corporation, has announced a new solution for people who want to keep track of all the information they find useful on the web. Thumbtack is similar to social bookmarking, but takes the service to new levels calling it a online research collection tool.Thumbtack is intended as a repository for all the information you collect as you traverse the web. It covers the basic activities we do as we find information we want to keep track of - archival, research, sharing and publishing.
EC project to eliminate human error on production lines using AI
The four teams who worked on Project E!3450-QSPAI have achieved a non-contact activation program that commands and monitors laser-scanning for precise panel measurement, and triangulation methods for positioning components. Although existing technologies, notably in computing and lasers, have been used, it is their integration that makes this control system unique. The project was instigated and led by Trimo d.d., a specialist engineer and producer of prefabricated steel buildings and components, based at Trebnje, some 50 km south-west of Ljubljana. The other partners were two faculties of the University of Ljubljana – Computer and Information Science, and Electrical Engineering – and the Institut fuer Sandwichtechnik, of Mainz, Germany.
Teragram announces substantial growth and momentum in 2008
Teragram, a division of SAS, continued to see consistent demand for its multilingual natural language processing technologies in 2008. In a banner year for the company, Teragram was acquired by business analytics leader SAS, expanded its roster of marquee customers and enhanced its award-winning technology. Teragram works with top publishers, news organizations, corporations and major search companies to manage their expanding amounts of digital data through a suite of linguistic tools, such as taxonomy management, entities and events extraction and direct answering search technologies.
WordNet and speech resource additions for ELRA
The European Language Resources Association (ELRA) has added one new WordNet database and two new speech resources to its catalogue. The Czech WordNet captures nouns, verbs, adjectives, and some adverbs, and contains 28,201 word senses (synsets). Each Czech synset is related to the corresponding synset in the Princeton WordNet 2.0. via its identification number. The ELRA-S0294 CHIEDE Corpus, a spontaneous child language corpus of Spanish, is comprised of 58,163 words, in 30 texts, with 7 hours and 53 minutes of recordings and 59 child participants. The main feature of CHIEDE is the interactions' spontaneity: texts are recordings of communicative situations in their natural context.The ELRA-S0295 LILA Korean database is comprised of 1,000 Korean speakers (500 males and 500 females) recorded over the Korean mobile telephone network. Each speaker uttered around 60 read and spontaneous items.
Loquendo improved Speech Recognition with ASR Version 7.7
Speech technologies provider Loquendo has announced the latest version of its Speech Recognition offering, ASR 7.7 which includes a number of new capabilities that improve the delivery and accuracy of speech.The latest version offers support for 21 languages and includes specialized acoustic models for all types of telephony environments as well as for noisy in-car environments.The offering is available in: U.S. English, U.K. English, Russian, Chilean, Mexican and Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, French, Canadian French, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Polish, German, Greek, Swedish and more.New features include a "Feature Normalization" algorithm that helps to improve recognition accuracy regardless of how the ASR was trained.Also, a "Continuous Recognition Mode" automatically recognizes short, consecutive commands and an improved "Confidence Score" algorithm improves the calculation of confidence values to help make dialogues more robust.
Voice Commerce Group launches VoicePay TV
Voice Commerce Group, a leader in payment systems, announced the launch of VoicePay TV, a new payment processing service that enables any product or service to be sold instantly via any TV or IPTV programme.The system enables businesses that have signed up to the service to place a VoicePay logo, free-phone number and unique VoicePay product code into any video advertisement. When a customer sees an advert showing a product they wish to buy, they call the VoicePay number and authorise the transaction by 'signing' for purchase with their voice. A demonstration of the service is available on
Mothercare helps parents find answers with Transversal
Mothercare is improving the customer experience on its website with the launch of Ask Carrie, an interactive web self-service solution. Powered by Transversal (, Ask Carrie delivers fast, accurate answers to queries across the Mothercare website. The launch of Ask Carrie follows successful deployment of Transversal's technology on the website of the Early Learning Centre (ELC), another part of the Mothercare group. Since its introduction as part of a major website refresh, Mothercare has seen major benefits from Ask Carrie. Customers are able to ask questions directly using the system without the need to call or email the Mothercare contact centre. This allows staff to concentrate on answering more complex queries. Mothercare's knowledgebase currently contains 500 questions and is growing as customer take up increases.