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IIT Guwahati

Guwahati: Villagers residing in the remote interiors of the northeast will soon have access to vital healthcare information in native languages, thanks to a unique project being taken up by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati here.

The institute at north Guwahati is developing speech technologies for Northeastern languages to create speech technology tools for healthcare information dissemination.

The project involves building speech technology tools for healthcare information dissemination in Hindi, English, Assamese, Bangla, Bodo, Manipuri, Khasi, Mizo, Nagamese and Nepali.

It will cater primarily to residents in remote areas with access to key healthcare-related information in native languages.

The tools will also enable retrieval of healthcare-related information with the help of spoken keyword spotting (KWS) in seven Northeast Indian languages.

Moreover, as part of the project, a database of health-related information in seven languages spoken in the region will also be created. 

The Centre for Linguistic Science and Technology (CLST) at IIT-Guwahati has received funding for this project from the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology under its ‘National Language Translation Mission (NLTM): BHASHINI’ initiative.

“This work embodies IIT Guwahati’s commitment to work for local languages and ethnicities of Northeast India. The interdisciplinary nature of the project and focus on local languages reflect the spirit envisaged in the National Education Policy, 2020,” IIT-G director T.G. Sitharam said, while highlighting the unique aspects of the project. 

Elaborating on the project, Rohit Sinha, principal investigator of project and head of the department of electronics and electrical engineering, IIT-G, said, “The institute is committed to developing tools to facilitate last-mile connectivity and information dissemination among the various communities living in the region in their own languages. This project will be a step towards achieving that aim.”

“The Centre for Linguistic Science and Technology is a unique and truly interdisciplinary centre devoted to analysis and technology development in the languages of northeast India, through research projects and its PhD programme,” Sinha said.

The spoken keyword spotting (KWS) systems developed in the project will detect a list of predefined words in a given speech signal of one of the target languages of the project.

The efforts will involve modelling speech with the deep neural network based state-of-the-art techniques.

Along with Sinha, the interdisciplinary team of CLST team comprises Priyankoo Sarmah, Sanasam Ranbir Singh and Ashish Anand from CLST, IIT-G.

This project is part of a larger consortium project titled “Speech Technologies for Indian Languages”, led by IIT Madras as the consortium leader.

For the northeast-specific project, the IIT Guwahati team will work together with research teams from CDAC-Kolkata, IIIT Sri City, and NIT Manipur.

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