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27th February 2009 - International workshop on Spoken Language Technology for Development - Call for Participation

Outside Echo is hosting SLT4D-09 - an international workshop on Spoken Language Technology for Development - from 10-12 September 2009, in the UK. This follows on from a successful special session at SLT2008 in Goa, India. The aim of the workshop is to develop a "best practice in developing and deploying speech systems\technology for developmental applications". See the workshop webpages for details on how to particpate.

29th April 2008 - NAFIS launched in Kenya

The Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Japhet Kareke Mbiuki, the Swedish Ambassador to Kenya, Ms Anna Brandt and Githunguri MP, Hon. Njoroge Baiya joined LLSTI partner Dr Mucemi Gakuru at the Githunguri Stadium for the launch of the National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS). NAFIS is primarily a voice information service for providing agricultural extension information through telephony. It can be accessed through calling +254-20-47NAFIS (i.e. +254-20-4762347) but is also accessible through the Web. NAFIS uses Kiswahili and Kenyan English TTS commercialised by Teknobyte, and can be continually updated through the web by field extension officers. NAFIS offers information on crops and livestock as well as product information, including market prices.

30th March 2007 - New Morphology Project

Dr Ksenia Shalonova has joined Prof Peter Flach at the Univeristy of Bristol, UK, for a 3-year project applying machine learning techniques to the morphological analysis of languages with complex recursive structures and a lot of ambiguities (mainly African, Asian and East European languages). The project will focus on Turkish, Russian and isiZulu (a Bantu language predominantly spoken in South-Africa) as example languages.

24th July 2006 - Banana Information Service goes live

Kenya's first large-scale voice information line to support rural farmers went live today. The service supports banana growers at all stages, from first deciding whether to grow bananas, through to planting, maintenance, harvesting and pest control. The service uses the LLSTI Kiswahili text-to-speech system, and was developed jointly by the agricultural extension service NALEP, Uppsala University Sweden, the University of Nairobi and Outside Echo. The service is hosted by Speechnet, and can be called 9am to 9pm Kenyan time on 07279 50483 locally or +254 7279 50483 internationally. Initial responses to the service have been extremely positive, as until now such information has not been widely accessible. (14/05/07 - service no longer operational - awaiting further development)

31st May 2006 - Internationalizing SSML

LLSTI Technical Co-ordinator Ksenia Shalonova joined with TTS experts from around the world in Crete at the second W3C workshop on internationalizing the speech synthesis markup language SSML. Copies of all the presentations and minutes of the workshop are available from the W3C Website.

21st August 2005 - Open Source Telephony platform; TTS and ASR for more Southern African langauges

LLSTI partners Meraka Institute in South Africa have been awarded a grant by OSI and OSISA to develop an open-source telephony platform that is suitable for developing-world users and application developers. The platform will cater for both text-to-speech and speech-recognition capabilities, which can be added in modular fashion. Part of the funding is also being used for the development of text-to-speech and speech recognition in a few of the languages of Southern Africa.

1st March 2005 - Language Downloads Available

Festival users can now download our first 4 local language TTS systems.

1st March 2005 - Interactive Demo for Kiswahili now available

Try out local language TTS yourself.

9th November 2004 - CSR Europe Conference

LLSTI Director Roger Tucker joined with Hewlett Packard, Proctor & Gamble and the Royal College of Nurses at a workshop on Meeting the Millenium Deveopment Goals - a Business Case for the Bottom of the Pyramid. A full report of this workshop is available on request.

15th September 2004 - Zulu demo available

Examples of the speech produced by the Zulu TTS system are now available

23rd August 2004 - Hindi demo available

Examples of the speech produced by the Hindi TTS system are available here.

23 May 2004 - 3rd LLSTI Workshop

14 delegates attended the third partners workshop 22-23 May, which was held in Lisbon to coincide with the Language Resource & Evaluation conference (LREC 2004) the following week. The first day had presentations from the five language partners, and the three partners working on tools - IIIT Hyderabad, HP Labs India and CSIR Pretoria. The second day was more open discussion around the issue of tone in African tonal languages, evaluation, applications and the need for more documentation on Festival. Between them the partners undertook to produce improved documentation which will be available in September.

24 May 2004 - LREC workshop on Minority Languages

LLSTI partners Outside Echo and IIIT Hyderabad took part in this LREC satellite workshop organised by SALTMIL (a special interest group of ISCA focusing on Speech and Language Technology for Minority Languages) which brought together language technologists working on the world's less prominent languages. Languages covered by participants included Amharic, Basque, Catalan, Irish, Komi and Welsh.

27 Jan 2004 - Sponsorship for Kiswahili

The University of Nairobi is set to be the latest addition to the growing LLSTI partnership, thanks to the sponsorship of Oneworld International, who are already sponsoring Tamil development at IISc Bangalore . The target applications for Kiswahili TTS are phone-based voice systems which allow wider access to the SMS and internet services being rolled out as part of the Open Knowledge Network (OKN) in Kenya. One of the first services to be made available by voice will be a job alert which allows users to be notified as soon as a job fitting their profile becomes available.

10 Jan 2004 - LLSTI Workshop on a Framework for Multi-Lingual Morphological Decomposition

This workshop was hosted by partners IIIT Hyderabad 9 & 10 January to thrash out the final details of the MD framework. Having already considered Hindi, Telegu and English, we looked at details of Tamil, Russian and other languages known by the workshop participants. Input from the partners looking at Ibibio and isiZulu had already been received. The prototype tool written in perl will be available shortly for general testing by all the partners and other interested parties.

7 Jan 2004 - SCALLA 2004

SCALLA (Sharing Capability in Localisation & Human Language Technologies) 2004 was the third in a series of conferences with experts from diverse disciplines (anthropologists & journalists as well as technical experts) from South Asia & Europe coming together to focus on issues of people-centred localisation & HLT. This year's conference was held 5 to 7 January in Kathmandu, and had the theme Crossing the Digital Divide - shaping technologies to meet human needs with LLSTI partners Outside Echo, IIIT Hyderabad and IISc Bangalore all there. Roger Tucker & Ksenia Shalonova (Outside Echo) overviewed LLSTI, and Prof Sangal (IIIT Hyderabad) overviewed their work on machine translation into different Indian languages. The MD Framework (see above) being written by Prof Sangal's group has grown out of this experience in machine translation.

The need for collaborative efforts and open source approaches also came out strongly in other presentations - notably that of Dr Om Vikas, Senior Director at the Indian Ministry of IT. The conference has facilitated a number of collaborations, including new opportunities for LLSTI in South Asia - watch this space. 

13 Dec 2003 - LLSTI at ICT4D

ICT4D was the exhibition accompanying the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) at Geneva in December 2003. A number of LLSTI partners were there - Outside Echo, CSIR, HP Labs India, as well as sponsors DfID, IDRC & Oneworld International.

Outside Echo organised a seminar Overcoming ICT Access Barriers through Voice, which was attended by people with a wide range of interests, from content creators through to the mobile sector. Roger Tucker (Outside Echo) explained the rationale behind LLSTI , whilst Etienne Barnard (CSIR) and K S R Anjelaleyu (HP Labs India) gave overviews of their work on Local Langauge Speech Technology. The demonstration of HP Labs voice-based Railway Reservation System made a particularly strong impression.

LLSTI also featured prominently on the Department of Science & Technology South Africa stand, and a steady stream of LLSTI publicity leaflets were handed to interested people during the week.




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