Technology

Researchers hope to develop a Gaelic speaking voice assistant

The team led by the University of Edinburgh collected millions of spoken and written Gaelic words.

University researchers are hoping to develop a Gaelic speaking voice assistant after using artificial intelligence to convert the language from audio to text.

A team of linguists and artificial intelligence specialists – led by the University of Edinburgh – developed software that can listen to spoken Gaelic and print it out as written text.

They hope to now upgrade the tech to produce a Gaelic version of Siri, Alexa, Google and other voice assistants which can listen and respond.

Using a neural network – AI that enables computers to process language in the same way that humans do – the researchers collected millions of spoken and written Gaelic words and trained a computer system to recognise how they were related.

Project leader Dr William Lamb, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, said: “Ensuring that Gaelic has a place in the modern technological landscape is key for its survival.

“By enlisting the support and expertise of the Gaelic community, and giving back to them in this way, we hope to demonstrate that any minority language can thrive in the digital age.”

Also involved were the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches project – an online record of Scotland’s oral heritage.

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Technology