LUNA Smooths Out Speech Recognition
If you are accustomed to handling quite a lot of your personal business over the telephone then chances are that you are quite familiar with automated speech recognition. Although this system is wonderfully convenient at times, as well as being rather cost effective, it can be a bother. It would be even more wonderful if all you needed to do was to tell the system exactly what you want. Well, this might be a reality pretty soon, because spoken language understanding (SLU) is a project that is taking on the problem of real-time understanding in the area of advanced telecommunication. This project is called the LUNA project and has a cost of 2.61 million euros. LUNA is headed by Ms Silvia Mosso who is from Loquendo, and Italian speech technology group. They are attempting to make a tool kit for multilingual services that will be able to perform human to computer communication in a way that best suits the average client. Among the issues that the LUNA project is addressing is ensuring that the system will understand language structure in order to understand what is said. But this is not all. Included in the issues LUNA is tackling are automatic learning, robustness issues for SLU, semantic modeling for the understanding of speech, as well as multilingual probability of SLU components. The SLU is clearly more advanced than the interactive voice response systems (IVR). With IVR callers have to respond to specific questions by saying specific words or phrases that the system gives as options. With LUNA that will be a thing of the past. Instead, people will be able to communicate unrestrained with a computer. In the end, thanks to LUNA people will be much more satisfied with the service that they have received. Ms Mosso explained that they were required to record many unrehearsed conversations between different people as well as between people and computers. The computer’s basic language is called Corpora, and is a collection of all the words and phrases that were recorded. Of course the terms had to be translated in a way that the computers can understand. For example, you might tell the system that your printer is not working properly. It will respond by assisting you to go through a series of options available to you in order to rectify the situation. Naturally, the developers all agree that once SLU is up and running people will be able to conclude their telephonic business in a far more efficient manner. Makes the system so agreeable is the fact that it can be useful in any call centre irrespective of what the service the company provides is. Businesses agree with the researchers that LUNA is extremely practical. Various academic institutions from around the world are involved in the LUNA project, from France to Italy and from Poland to Japan. Of course, once the system is fully operational the experts working on the LUNA project are expecting a degree of competition to flare up between the industrial partners. Whereas LUNA has already devised the most advanced SLU for both Italian and Polish they are still working on the finishing touches. According to Ms Mosso the project should be done by the end of next September.