Saturday, January 22, 2022

IIT Bombay launches Project Udaan, a language translator

“Language is more than just a medium of communication, it is the unseen thread that connects our past, present, and future” – VP M. Venkaiah Naidu

What separates human beings from the rest of the living creatures is their ability to speak and be understood. Language is the medium that makes this possible. Now, what happens if one speaks or writes in a particular language, but others can’t understand it? A barrier in communication is created, hampering the flow of messages.

This barrier in the flow of messages is a bane for students who do not excel in the English language. Keeping this in mind, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay launched Project Udaan, a language translator, to ease students in understanding the language, on September 14.

Project Udaan
‘Project Udaan,’ a donation-based project, is an end-to-end ecosystem, which translates scientific and technical content from English to Hindi and all other Indian languages. The AI-based translation software ecosystem can translate engineering textbooks, learning materials in one-sixth of the time taken by a team of domain and linguistic experts working manually on it.

The project has been developed by Institute Chair Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Prof. Ganesh Ramakrishnan, and his team. The work began seven years ago when Prof. Ganesh and his team saw a wide gap in the availability of technical knowledge in Hindi and other Indian languages.

The project is also in line with the New Education Policy, which promotes imparting of higher education through Indian languages. Further, the Project aims to translate 500 engineering texts in Hindi in one year and in 15 Indian languages in 3 years.

In addition to this, among the various goals of the Project, some include enabling a web platform with a complete translation workbench, domain-specific linguistic resources (dictionaries, translation memory) for efficient and consistent quality translation, and set up a parallel corpus in the technical domain (>30,00,000 words) to speed up the translation and post-editing research.

Similar Projects
The institute has developed similar projects that focus on Indian languages, such as Akshar Anveshini, MALTA, DECILE, INDICOCR, and more.

Akshar Anveshini is an optical character recognition (OCR) and post-editing system for the Sanskrit language. It converts the document images into an editable electronic format that enables data compression, search and edit options.

MALTA or Multi-Modal and Multi-Lingual Temporal Sentence Alignment localizes sentences/ captions in videos that leverage both audio and video modalities and that can generalize to new and possibly low-resource language settings.

Vice President’s call for Indian languages

Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu has time and again stressed the need and importance of promoting various Indian languages. He urged the citizens to take pride in speaking their own mother tongue and called for people’s movement to preserve the ‘living culture’ of language.

The Vice President has also suggested measures to protect and promote the use of Indian languages. This includes taking the initiative to translate literary works between different Indian languages. He has called for teaching the nuances of language to children in a simple manner, through games and activities.

Project Udaan fulfills this call and promotes Indian languages in education, for the students. Recently, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) developed AICTE Translation Automation Artificial Intelligence Tool which translates English language online courses into eleven different languages- Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Assamese, and Odia. It translates complex formulae, English books, research journals, government documents, and English videos.

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