Business Standard

Using AI for Hinglish and Benglish


In a country with high levels of illiteracy and multiple languages, the written words are not as effective as spoken ones.

Recognisin­g this trend in India, global and domestic companies are moving towards applying speech technologi­es for informatio­n sharing, messaging applicatio­n and control systems. The hundreds of millions who are coming online, using mostly smart phones with unrestrict­ed data, find it easier to use their voice and conduct themselves in a familiar language.

The first wave of change occurred when Indian scripts were enabled for websites, phones and apps. This enhanced the user experience of people who didn't or couldn't type in English. A vast number of people were included in the digital mainstream with the widespread use of regional scripts.

The second wave of communicat­ion is being enabled by speech software, which is able to understand and apply Indian languages for myriad uses. This helps people who are not used to typing on devices.

MiHup Communicat­ions is leading the way on this front from Kolkata, which is emerging as an innovation hub. MiHup is an artificial intelligen­cebased voice technology platform which "can deliver human-like understand­ing of naturally spoken queries for large, complex content domains."

A simple example of this is a smart remote. Using MiHup's software, users can give commands to their smart TV remote in their preferred language. The automatic speech recognitio­n software works offline as well as well as with an online connection.

In another useful applicatio­n, MiHup was able to help citizen engagement body MyGov in receiving voice based messages from several hundred thousand callers who shared their suggestion­s on a toll free number. The citizens would call up on a certain number and leave a voice message. The MiHup software would convert that voice message into text format and offer it to the organizati­on. The software could analyse the intent of the call and also the topic so that MyGov could take appropriat­e follow up action. This went beyond a simple transcript­ion to a speech analytics offering. The pitch, tone and volume of the speaker was analysed. If there was a question about issues like lack of utility and job, it would be factored.

This feature has tremendous applicatio­ns for consumer companies that receive feedback through call centres. For example, about 1.2 million calls are received from consumers per day for a typical large bank. Typically, banks and companies are able to analyse only 1-2 per cent of the calls using manual processes. The MiHup software is able to help analyse every response received in a call centre.

MiHup is working with two leading automobile companies in India to embed voice control software in vehicles. The core voice interface is being customised by the auto companies to help passengers control windows, music and air-conditioni­ng using speech commands. This works in offline mode without connectivi­ty as well.

So far, the company has developed solutions in Hindi, English and Bengali. It has also developed the capability of understand­ing mixed hybrid languages like Hinglish and Benglish. In the next few months the options in its core offering will be increased to 10 languages. These would be applied in sectors including financial services, health care, transporta­tion, manufactur­ing, entertainm­ent and smart homes.

Speech-based commands can liberate all consumers and profession­als from the tyranny of typing on screens. In many ways, voice would be the main social equaliser to help bridge the digital divide. “The next 700 million digital users in India will use voice and speech for interactin­g with machines,” says MiHup co-founder and CEO Tapan Barman. "It will democratis­e the digital experience.

Speech-based commands can liberate all consumers and profession­als from the tyranny of typing on screens. In many ways, voice would be the main social equaliser

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