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Transliteration service on your mobile


02 November 2009

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A new technology will allow Indian mobile users to communicate and express themselves in their local languages. The service being made available by Tachyon in partnership with Quillpad, will enable easy translation of local words by phonetically ‘typing’ them in English.

Reading or writing in your local language on the mobile phone could now get simpler.

cell trans.jpg
Image credits: BuisnessLine/ Transliteration technology

No, you don’t need a Hindi keypad to type in Hindi, nor do you have to type in the local language.

All you need to do is type the Hindi words phonetically in English and the software in your mobile phone will convert that into Hindi text.

Tachyon Technologies, which provides transliteration service through the Web site www.quillpad.in – in 10 Indian languages including Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam – has now come out with a version for the mobile phone too.

Right now, the mobile phone service is available only in Hindi; gradually it will be rolled out in other languages too.

Quillpad, which has been in operation since 2006, essentially works on the concept of ‘machine learning’ wherein the computer deciphers the rules and language patterns from the corpus of words collected from the Internet – similar to how the human mind applies intelligence when reading words.

There is no ambiguity or confusion here regarding how Indian words are pronounced, assures Ram Prakash, Co-Founder and CEO, Tachyon Technologies.

When the user types a string, the machine automatically decodes the phonetics of the word in that particular language using a statistical mechanism and gives out the right result.

Google initiative

Realising the potential of transliteration technology as a communication tool in a world where almost every literate person is familiar with the English letter set, Google, in 2007, came out with its own transliteration tool called Googleindic.

The scope of this technology is indeed huge. It could open up a whole new world for those who want to communicate and express themselves in the local language, especially on the mobile phone.

It is wrong for us to assume that those who know English would want to communicate to their friends and family only in English, says Prakash.

“And there are a lot of people today who don’t use messaging service at all because it’s in English. Or they send SMSes in Kannada using English letters. It’s very difficult to read at the other end unless you know the context.”

“The human brain is trained to read English words correctly even if the letters are garbled as long as the first and last letters are intact. That’s because the brain is familiar with the words. But you can’t read a local language with ease if written using English letters, because you are not familiar with those patterns. This is where transliteration comes in handy.” But don’t mobile phones come with their own local language messaging service?

“But it’s complex. First of all, your phone has to have the keypad in that language and second, if you have to type composite letters and conjuncts, there are several complicated steps to be followed. With transliteration, all you need to do is type in English and the machine does the rest,” says Prakash.

Fee trial offer

Currently, Tachyon is offering a free trial on the mobile phone for around 10 messages. Then there is a registration charge of Rs 149. For its mobile phone initiative, Tac hyon has licensed this technology to LG; the company is also talking to other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and operators.

In September, the Web site Quillpad.in had a unique user traffic of 1.16 lakh. Quillpad also powers several Web sites including rediff (for its mail service), guruji (for searching in the local language) and indiatimes (for users to type comments in the local language).

Prakash hopes that the Quillpad technology will be well received on the mobile phone too. Apart from the mobile phone version, Tachyon plans to come out with a desktop version too.

 
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