North West Wales

Speakers for Welsh voice recognition app sought

Smartphone Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Recordings made on the phone can be uploaded straight to a website

People around Wales are being asked to record their voices to help develop speech recognition software in Welsh.

The technology is increasingly used for communicating with phones, computers and other electronic systems.

Bangor University developers need a variety of voices to help train the software and are asking for volunteers to use a smart phone app to contribute.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has done a voice recording for the project.

The process involves downloading an app to a phone and reading a prepared script, then uploading the recording to a website.

Hundreds of people from around Wales are needed, and the team at Bangor's language technologies unit hopes to get a range of ages and accents, including those of learners.

It is hoped that a wide range of voices will help 'train' the software to detect and interpret Welsh correctly.

The first minister said: "I'm very happy to be able to support this appeal in a practical way.

"Our Welsh language policy, Moving Forward, states clearly the importance of being able to use Welsh with the new technology, and our commitment to ensuring that Wales leads the way in this field."

Chattering

Image caption The app - Paldaruo - is available for iPhones and Android phones

Lead developer Dewi Bryn Jones, who devised the app, said: "In the old days, it was a very laborious task to go around recording people for such a project.

"With the new phones and tablets, which all include a microphone, it's easy for people to record themselves speaking."

The app is named Paldaruo, which means chattering or blathering in Welsh.

It is available for both iPhone and Android phones.

The developers have been given a grant towards the costs from the Welsh government and the Welsh-language television channel S4C.

Sarah Cooper developed special scripts for people to read aloud using the app.

"The script is designed to capture every possible sound combination in Welsh, and the corpus of recordings will be available to research and develop all sort of new Welsh language products.

"We haven't used crowdsourcing methods like this before to create a speech corpus for Welsh, but we hope to get a good response from the appeal.

"The app is very easy to use, and is something practical that people can do for the Welsh language."

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