Many people will have found a smart voice recognition device – such as an Amazon Echo or Google Nest – nestled under their Christmas tree yesterday.
Now eleven organisations have joined together to try and make a Welsh language equivalent possible, and are encouraging the public to lend their voices to the project too.
They are planning to contribute 50 hours of voices on Common Voice Cymraeg to develop smart technology in the Welsh language.
Canolfan Bedwyr – Bangor University’s Language Technologies Unit – Meddal.com and Mozilla intend to use these voices to create a free database that will enable smart technology companies to introduce the Welsh language to their devices.
To achieve this goal the organisations are asking the people of Wales, of all ages, to take part in the challenge by recording or verifying Welsh voices.
Staff and members from the following organisations will all contribute by recording or verifying at least five clips on the Common Voice Cymraeg website as part of the ‘Defnyddia Dy Lais’ (use your voice) challenge:
- The Urdd
- The Welsh Language Commissioner
- The National Eisteddfod
- The National Center for Learning Welsh
- Nant Gwrtheyrn
- Young Farmers Clubs Wales
- Mudiad Meithrin
- Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
- Welsh Government
- Mentrau Iaith
One of the contributors is Nia ap Tegwyn, Menter Gorllewin Sir Gâr’s Senior Language Officer. She said: “As individuals who promote the use of the Welsh language, it is important and a privilege to contribute to Common Voice, leading by example to ensure that devices can understand and communicate in Welsh in the future.”
As well as assisting automatic captioning in Welsh, the database will enable further development in voice recognition technologies, such as the Macsen app, to understand and respond to more questions in Welsh.
Ap Macsen is a Welsh language personal assistant app created by Canolfan Bedwyr, Bangor University’s Language Technologies Unit.
The app is currently able to report news, weather, play Welsh music and more on demand – all thanks to the Common Voice scheme.
Rhoslyn Prys of meddal.com said: “This year it has become clear how reliant on technology we all are, with smart technologies quickly becoming a practical part of many of our lives.
“This is an opportunity for all of us as Welsh speakers to ensure that the Welsh language continues to have a place in the world of tech. By doing one small thing together, we can make a big difference for future Welsh speech recognition technologies.”