AlfaNum Teaching Machines to Speak

Posted in: News- Jan 19, 2015

The company AlfaNum, which is being financed by the Innovation Fund under the MATCHING GRANTS Program, is developing software components for high quality speech recognition and synthesis in Serbian, Croatian and Macedonian. As the leader in the region for the past 15 years, AlfaNum has strived to bring the world of modern speech technologies closer to a wide range of users. Besides speech technologies, AlfaNum also works on the development and implementation of products intended for the disabled, as well as the implementation of call and information centers.

In the digital age one must pay special attention to the digitalization of languages, because a language directly affects the ways the digital space expands. Machines can be taught to understand and use spoken language. However, teaching machines to communicate using speech is one of the most complex multidisciplinary problems that scientists and researchers worldwide have attempted to solve. Having this in mind, the AlfaNum team dedicated itself to the development of speech technologies for South Slavic languages in order to prevent the digital exclusion of the people in this region, because speech technologies have the potential to revolutionize our communication within actual, augmented or virtual reality.

The development of speech technologies requires expertise from a range of areas including linguistics, psychology, mathematics, information and communication technologies as well as signal processing. Cooperation of experts from all these areas is a prerequisite for the creation of multimodal and multimedia systems that would be able to communicate using spoken language. For that reason AlfaNum cooperates with the Faculty of Technical Sciences (University of Novi Sad), as well as a number of experts from other institutions from Serbia and abroad.

 “The AlfaNum team works on promoting speech technologies into an integral part of our everyday life through a range of applications. One of them, Advertising Monitor, which we are especially proud of, has been recognized as the best technological innovation in Serbia in 2006.”, said Vesna Rehner,  AlfaNum CMO.

In order to preserve its languages, and because of the economical and social component that the speech technologies carry, European Union has been investing in their development through the instruments of European Research Area. The value of the market of speech technologies is expected to reach EUR 30 billion in 2015. Furthermore, these technologies are expected to contribute to the development of economy through overcoming language barriers, making both business communication and workforce fluctuation easier. The level of the quality of these technologies for Serbian language is close to the state of the art, mostly owing to the AlfaNum team.