Community partnerships and technical excellence unlock open voice technology success in Rwanda


Mozilla’s mission[1] is clear – to ensure that the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. Increasingly, we use voice as a key interface to the internet. Now, it’s as natural for us to ask our devices a question as it is to type a query into the search bar.

But only if we speak a language that’s well recognized, like English.

Most cloud based voice companies only provide support for languages that are spoken in affluent countries. For example, there is poor voice support for African languages. In line with its mission to create an Internet accessible to everyone, Mozilla supports changing the voice landscape. Technologies like Common Voice[2] and DeepSpeech[3] are helping democratize voice technology – making it easier to collect voice data and create speech recognition applications in more languages.

But creating a voice dataset is no easy task. It requires a mix of technical excellence and strong community partnerships.

And that’s exactly what Didier Mugwaneza[4], a Machine Learning Engineer with Digital Umuganda[5], a machine learning-focused startup created from a Mozilla hackathon in 2018, and Josh Meyer[6], Mozilla Fellow, delivered recently for the Kinyarwanda language. Like many African languages, there is no voice technology support for Kinyarwanda, even though it’s spoken by over 12 million people in Rwanda. This also means that there are significant barriers to building voice-enabled services and applications, for groups who may need them the most – particularly during a time of coronavirus. For this reason, the German development agency GIZ decided to fund the project, contributing to their “Fair Forward[7]” mission of delivering fair artificial intelligence for everyone.

References

  1. ^ mission (www.mozilla.org)
  2. ^ Common Voice (www.mozilla.org)
  3. ^ DeepSpeech (github.com)
  4. ^ Didier Mugwaneza (www.linkedin.com)
  5. ^ Digital Umuganda (digitalumuganda.com)
  6. ^ Josh Meyer (www.linkedin.com)
  7. ^ Fair Forward (www.giz.de)


Source: Mozilla

February 8, 2021
Category : Marketing
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Senior Software Developer

Creator of @LzoMedia I am a backend software developer based in London who likes beautiful code and has an adherence to standards & love's open-source.