Chatbots and virtual assistants are revolutionising the relationship between humans and machines. These virtual assistants are transforming the customer service landscape in India. With the rising number of smart devices connected via the internet of things, it has become even more crucial for smarter and more efficient communication with the machines.
Now, reports have suggested that the Indian think-tank NITI Aayog has paired up with the Indian Institute of Technology, Patna, and others, to work on an Indian version of a smart virtual assistant which can interact with the users in 18 local languages.
A government official told a finalcial daily that the NITI Aayog has collaborated with IIT Patna director Pushpak Bhattacharyya to develop a natural language processor for commercial use. Bhattacharyya, who has been working with aspect-based sentiment analysis, cross-linguality and multi-linguality, for some time now, has reportedly confirmed the news.
Bhattacharyya added that the project was commissioned by the Ministry of Information Technology and that 14 other institutes were working on the project called Technology Development in Indian Languages (TDIL).
Bhattacharyya told ET, “We are creating a conceptual dictionary, a first of its kind for India. This dictionary would help decipher the correct meaning of words and help in translation, dialogue generation, question-answering and information retrieval in 18 Indian languages. This technology would impact all e-commerce companies, education institutes, any company — for example, airlines — that uses chatbots as now they can interact in multiple languages.”
Earlier this year, the committee for standardisation in artificial intelligence, set up by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), had appointed Bhattacharyya as their new chairman. The committee has been set up by BIS, which in turn falls under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs. He also heads the Natural language processing research group Centre For Indian Language Technology (CFILT) lab at IIT Bombay
Tech giants like Amazon have already been working with support for Indian languages via Amazon Polly and Alexa.