There Won’t Be Language Barriers At 2018 Winter Olympics In Pyeongchang

Jul 06, 2015

Korea and Japan are competing for leadership in ‘Olympics without language barriers’. Korean and Japanese industry and research worlds are competing for originality in voice recognition and translation technologies at 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Japan who announced for Tokyo Olympics without language barrier, is actually step ahead of Korea in driving force. But it is possible for Korea to overtake Japan because voice recognition and translation technologies that are applied in Tokyo Olympics are Korean technologies and Pyeongchang Olympics happens 2 years earlier.

According to the industrial world, companies and research institutions that are affiliated to the government are competing to secure voice recognition and translation technologies. Their goals are to help foreigners and Koreans to freely communicate at 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics that is covered by Korea’s ICT. Smartphones translate many languages into Korean in real-time, and foreigners who visit Pyeongchang can freely communicate without any inconvenience.

Korea’s voice recognition and translation technologies are known as ‘Jinitok’ that is released in 2012. It is developed by Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and it can translate Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese. Researcher Lee Young Jik of ETRI said that it is currently working on expanding languages such as Spanish, French, German, and Russian and it currently has 95% recognition rate based on voice database (DB) that ETRI secured until now.

Out of Korea’s DB businesses, ‘Multi-Language Voice DB for Smart Mobiles’ business that is run by ETRI was recently placed an order. ETRI is currently securing 50,000 translated sentences in colloquial style per languages every year until 2017, and it is putting about 100,000 conversational style of voice information every year into its database. Systran International, which received ETRI technologies, is supporting multi-language voices to many local governments using its experience and know-how in supplying voice recognition solutions.

Tokyo Olympics became a stimulant for Koreans to rush its work in erasing language barriers for Pyeongchang Olympics. Japan announced that it will make its Tokyo Olympics as ‘Language Barrier Free Olympics’ where everyone can freely communicate with each other. People can use their Smartphones to look up local information or information about stadiums, and this is applied to foreigners as well who do not know Japanese. Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication is overseeing the whole process, and Mirae Translations, NTT Docomo, and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) are participating in this development.

Mirae Translations, who is in charge of implementing voice recognition and translation technologies, uses Korean technologies. Mirae Translations is a joint venture that was made by Korea’s Systran International, NTT Docomo, and another voice recognition solution company called FueTrek. This means that Systran International’s technologies are applied in bringing ‘Language Barrier Free’ Olympics.

There is an increase chance of possibility in implementing native voice recognition and translation technologies in Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which is held 2 years earlier than Tokyo Olympics. “Looking at the timeline, Korea can implement ‘Language Barrier Free’ Olympics earlier than Japan by using ICT. Major languages centered on Korean are at a point where it secured best technology levels that surpass Google Translation.” CEO Choi Chang Nam of Systran International said about the levels of Korean voice recognition and translation technologies are at.

Korea also has some work to do before Pyeongchang Winter Olympics happens in 3 years. It is expected that about 6,000 athletes and affiliated people from about 80 different countries will come to Pyeongchang Olympics. Kangwon-Do is predicting that 50,000 athlete groups, people affiliated to IOC, Olympics committee and sports affiliated people from each countries, and broadcast members will visit Pyeongchang and nearby areas. 100,000s of foreign visitors will also visit Korea during this time, and Korea needs to increase its database if it wants to set up a system that allows communication smoothly between people.

Use of translation system is very high. It can definitely attract visitors, and language barriers in business circle will also disappear if Korea develops translation system in house. It needs to establish a system that attracts foreign visitors and allows continuous usage. It is also based on the fact that Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications played a key role in establishing cooperative system between research institutions and specialized companies.

“Korea needs to maximize the use of market of common people to continuously develop and expand voice recognition and translation technologies. It needs to strengthen technology development and private cooperative system and have policy continuity.” A person related to this industry said about what Korea needs to do.

Staff Reporter Kwon, Dongjoon | djkwon@etnews.com

■ [Table] Plan for multi-language voice DB business for Smart mobiles
▲ As for ‘Multi-Language Voice DB for Smart Mobiles’ business, Korea is working on 50,000 translated sentences in colloquial style in German, Russian, Arabian, and Vietnamese in 2015.  It is also working to add 90,000 conversational styles of sentences in German, Russian, Arabian, and Vietnamese.
▲ As for ‘Multi-Language Voice DB for Smart Mobiles’ business, Korea is working on 100,000 translated sentences in colloquial style in Cantonese and 50,000 translated sentences in colloquial style in Thailand and Malaysian in 2016.  It is also working to add 100,000 conversational styles of sentences in German, Thailand, and Russian.
▲ As for ‘Multi-Language Voice DB for Smart Mobiles’ business, Korea is working on 50,000 translated sentences in colloquial style in Italian, Portugal, Hindi, and Bengali in 2015.  It is also working to add 100,000 conversational styles of sentences in Italian, Portugal, Hindi, and Bengali.
▲Note: Korea is planning to secure internal competitiveness in new growth power industry and construct multi-language conversational style DB to support Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Reference: National Information Society Agency (NIA)
<■ [Table] Plan for multi-language voice DB business for Smart mobiles ▲ As for ‘Multi-Language Voice DB for Smart Mobiles’ business, Korea is working on 50,000 translated sentences in colloquial style in German, Russian, Arabian, and Vietnamese in 2015. It is also working to add 90,000 conversational styles of sentences in German, Russian, Arabian, and Vietnamese. ▲ As for ‘Multi-Language Voice DB for Smart Mobiles’ business, Korea is working on 100,000 translated sentences in colloquial style in Cantonese and 50,000 translated sentences in colloquial style in Thailand and Malaysian in 2016. It is also working to add 100,000 conversational styles of sentences in German, Thailand, and Russian. ▲ As for ‘Multi-Language Voice DB for Smart Mobiles’ business, Korea is working on 50,000 translated sentences in colloquial style in Italian, Portugal, Hindi, and Bengali in 2015. It is also working to add 100,000 conversational styles of sentences in Italian, Portugal, Hindi, and Bengali. ▲Note: Korea is planning to secure internal competitiveness in new growth power industry and construct multi-language conversational style DB to support Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Reference: National Information Society Agency (NIA) >

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