Monthly Archives: November 2011

ATBar – ATKit version needs testers!

We really would like to receive feedback for the English ATKit version of the ATBar as we would like to begin to make this version available to all.

github screenshotPlease put any issues you find on Github ATBar repository as Seb is trying to get all the bugs ironed out before launching.  Please also be aware that some websites do not work with the toolbar due to Flash and other features that cannot be accessed.

Arabic TTS discussions and success with ATKit beta

TTS logosAs we have all suspected the market for text to speech is now a choice between Nuance and Acapela with eSpeak and Festival offering a very limited choice of languages.  The licences for using options offered by the operating systems such as Microsoft and Apple do not allow us to use these for a browser based toolkit.

So we have been trialling the voice with Google translate but that only works for 1000 characters and is liable to disappear as a service.  We discussed the issue with a Google employee who was not very hopeful that we would be able to pursue this idea further although we would still like to keep this door open.

We also want to continue to see if we can discover any researchers still working on an open source free TTS for Arabic speech, but in the meantime we have been discussing the use of the Acapela Voice As A Service system that also works well as a plug-in for the new ATKit.

The web site for the English version of ATBar using the ATKit system of plug-ins  is ready for testing and final checks for the Arabic version will be set in place with plugins once agreements have occurred regarding the TTS, as all other sections are complete.  We are still looking for suitable dyslexic type errors to improve the present dictionary and have begun the research on both the word prediction and speech recognition.

Finally we have set up a ATKit plugin Google Group for further collaboration in the hope that this can become a truly open innovative process and a case study for the REALISE market place which has just received sponsorship from Devices for Dignity who are interested in seeing how case studies such as the ATKit develop in the future.

Comments please about proposed Plug-in site

The building of the plug-in website is underway in English and as with every page on the ATBar web site we would greatly appreciate corrections for the Arabic version as the pages are at present using the Google translate system with some help from our kind post graduates.

We would like to receive comments about the proposed design seen below for the main ATKit page and then for the plug-in page.

(select the images to enlarge them)

ATkit home page

ATkit home page

Plugin list page

Plugin list page

Plugin information page

Plugin information page

Plugin sets page

Plugin sets page

Word Prediction in Arabic.

The next challenge other than our search for an open source option for an Arabic TTS is going to be word prediction.  I felt it was time to start to define the requirements and how realistic we can be when it comes to working with a language that does not have an easy way to see breaks in words as was discovered when working on the spell checker.

Word completion is available from Nuance as T9 Write in Arabic and I have seen this working on an Android phone.  It is not totally successful, but does at least try to offer the correct word at times when a few characters are entered. It is also possible to use the swipe technique on the Arabic onscreen keyboard, as illustrated in the above YouTube video – Continuous T9 in Bada 1.2 arabic .

So we are looking for an Arabic corpus that will allow us to offer alternative words once typing has begun as well as the next option.  This plug-in will help those using the toolbar to increase typing speeds and possibly ameliorate any word finding difficulties or severe spelling problems.   Word prediction can be helpful for those who tend to type at less than 25 words per minute and can jog the memory when a few words are listed.

Texthelp word prediction

Texthelp Read and Write Gold being used with the rich text editor in WordPress

The word chosen can be added to free text via a single keyboard entry – usually a function key but number keys can also be used.  On the left word prediction has been illustrated using TextHelp Gold Read and Write, that support this type of text entry.  ClaroRead, Easy

Tutor, Soothsayer, Co:Writer, Penfriend and several other desktop applications offer similar functionality as can be seen on Emptech

The ATKit word prediction plug-in is for use in a browser when writing on the web – filling in forms, using Google docs or creating a blog or wiki   The toolbar plug-in is not designed to replicate an app for text editing when writing messages on a phone or iPad and it will not be able to offer all the options available with a desktop solution. .

One issue already beginning to cause concern is the possible removal of Google Tashkeel  – This is a very useful service supporting the diacritic symbols. We are watching to see what will happen with several other Google services  disappearing such as Google dictionary.  However,  the Google transliteration service is still available which at least allows us to practice typing words in one language and then with the selection of the space bar see them converted to Arabic.