Amazon patent debate puts accent translation center stage

Credit: US20180174595

You have heard of the language divide. But in this increasingly restricted world, we also have to worry about the accent divide.

Jay sweat bawn, huh vooz?

Crazy, really. Shed-you-uhl looks good nahsty.

Americans who have difficulty speaking French; British conversationalists baffle their American cousins: much patience and understanding is lost in accents, not to mention the lack of translations. It’s not just an intercontinental problem; regional accents within countries also pose problems of understanding. Amazon has a solution. That said, it’s time to draw attention to this month’s exciting patent news.

Amazon has thought about accentuated translation technology – that’s information from PatentYogi, the website that, speaking of translation, does a good job of translating patent ideas into words we instantly grasp.

In this case, PatentYogi talks about the publication of Amazon’s patent application regarding accent gap reduction.

“People learning a second language often learn to speak the second language using an accent associated with a primary language.”

Do you want to repeat that, Cowboy?

OK: “Even when people speak the same language, they find it difficult to understand each other because of their differences accents.”

Amazon’s patent discussion is about a fix.

What about an accent translator that can translate an audio signal from one accent to another accent? This is the approach offered by Amazon, where voice recognition and audio cues come into play.

Amazon talks about a real-time accent cocktail detection and translation.

Greg Syneck, TechSpotsays that “location data, phone numbers and previous correspondence are all used to help identify the correct accent to use. Only a few words would be needed coupled with the previous information to accurately determine how a user is likely to speak.” With the right tools, one can detect a speaker’s accent and change it to the listener’s accent.

Let’s say two people with different accents are on the phone. A sample sorter, audio cues and a translation module get to work. “Once the accent is correctly identified, the translator converts the speech into the listener’s accent in real time, allowing the conversation to to flow gently,” said Tech Radar.)

Neowin said, “The system would also be powered by artificial neural networks and AI, training it and making it more accurate on time.

The patent application filing date was in 2016 and the publication date was June 21. The “original assignee” was listed as Amazon Technologies, Inc.

Do we really need something like this? An obvious thought comes to mind: Why, yes.

In Tech Crunch, Coldewey mentioned one area that could use Amazon’s idea. “The most obvious place for an accent translator to deploy is in support, where millions of phone calls regularly take place between people in distant lands. It is the goal of the support person to communicate clearly and avoid adding to the caller’s concerns with language barriers.”

He also observed that, already, “the management of the accent occupies a dominating place in these industries; support staff often have to pass language and accent tests in order to grow in the organization they work for”.

Interestingly, it was in July that the article “The Accent Gap” appeared in The Washington Post, talk about Alexa, as well as the home of Google, and discuss how they stack up when it comes to accents. Technology journalist Drew Harwell said, “As voice becomes one of the primary means by which humans and computers interact, even a slight gap in understanding could mean a major handicap.”

This linguistic divide could be a huge, hidden obstacle to the systems that could one day form the foundation of modern life, he wrote.

The Washington Post had partnered with research groups to study the accent imbalance of smart speakers, tests were held in nearly 20 cities. The systems, they found, had notable disparities.

So what’s the next step? Is this yet another patent that tech watchers say may or may not see the light of day?

Devin Coldwey in Tech Crunch“The patent does not mean that the company made it (or necessarily that it will be granted), but there is also no raison why he can’t do it.”

In fact, he said he was confident there was “a real possibility of product shipping within the next year.” Why does Coldwey say that? “It’s kind of obvious, especially given all the work that’s being done right now in natural language processing.” He also said, “Amazon has huge amounts of money and engineering talent dedicated to natural language processing.”

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More information:
Patent application: US20180174595, … sf?docId=US221772810

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