Digital Planet

Technological and digital news from around the world.


The first African voice assistant

Speech smart assistants currently do not support any African language, but now Mozilla’s Common Voice project is building a dataset for Kiswahili which is spoken by more than a 100 million people in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. They have just been awarded almost $5m for the project. Remy the community lead at Common Voice Kinyarwanda and Chenai chair special adviser for Africa Innovation at the Mozilla Foundation tells us more about the work. Federated Learning As more of our data is processed through machine learning systems, Dr Nic Lane, of the Cambridge Computer Laboratory, explains a new way of processing and using our data without the need to send it through data centres. One solution to reduce the impact is federated learning – where data is processed on the edge, on your device, rather than being centralised. Not only does this reduce the environmental impact of computing, but it also has benefits for privacy and opens up opportunities for data sharing between companies. Electronic VR socks Reporter Claire Jordan has been investigating a novel approach to “walking” in a virtual reality. Existing ways are expensive and need considerable space to function, as well as having a less than satisfactory user experience. A new technology being developed by Professor Yusuke Matsuda of Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan could expand the reach of immersive VR movement to a much wider audience and deliver a better user experience than current solutions. The user wears electronic socks that create the feeling of walking in VR even though the user is sitting down. This could allow users to spend much longer in VR and also allow people with mobility issues to move around more freely, and possibly feel as though they are moving, in VR. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Mozilla’s Common Voice project. Credit: Mozilla) (Image: Mozilla’s Common Voice project. Credit: Mozilla)


 2021-05-25  38m