The SIWIS project is about speech to speech translation. It will allow a person to speak to a machine in their native language and have it automatically recognised, translated and spoken in a different language. One characteristic of recent technology to achieve this is that the spoken synthetic voice can sound like the original speaker instead of a generic speaker or robot.
SIWIS has two broad goals. The first is to customise the current state of the art to the Swiss language scenario. This entails constructing recognition, translation and synthesis modules in the main Swiss languages. The second goal is to advance this state of the art, focussing especially on prosody. Prosody describes aspects of speech such as volume, rhythm and pitch; these are the parts that carry emotion and emphasis, adding extra nuance and personality to the words.
In order to do this, SIWIS brings together four partners. These partners possess world leading expertise in each of the component parts of a translation system. Further, three of the partners are physically located in cities representing the major language groups of Switzerland; this includes English, represented by the University of Edinburgh. The location will be important not only for data collection (ensuring we have the tools to enable the project), but also for evaluation, providing native listeners to ensure our results are as good as can be hoped.