Introduction

BerbaTek is a strategic research project with a duration of three years (2009-2011). Its consortium is made up of the Elhuyar Foundation, the IXA and Aholab research groups of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, the technology centre Vicomtech and the foundation Tecnalia Research & Innovation. The BerbaTek project is partly funded by the Departments of Industry and Culture of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community (region).

The main aim of the BerbaTek project is the research and development of language technologies for voice and multimedia so that they can provide the technological basis to support the economic sector of the language industries in the Basque Autonomous Community (region), made up of the translation, teaching and content sectors, since this industry needs to be able to avail itself of advanced technologies so that it can be competitive in a globalised, interconnected and multilingual environment.

In addition to research into these technologies, the BerbaTek project has the following aims:

  • To take a new significant step forward in the strengthening of the language industries by incorporating the results and devices into real market scenarios (the home, electronics and industry), to make the marketing of them viable.
  • To set up new technology-based firms and consolidate the existing ones on the basis of the results of the project.
  • To generate knowledge, and train a qualified critical mass that will enable the future of R+D+i within this strategic line to be tackled in an autonomous way. To achieve this, training courses, postgraduate Masters, specialised seminars and PhD courses in the sphere of language technology will be run.

To meet these aims, the members that are part of the BerbaTek project have at their disposal a scientific and research community with the necessary internationally recognised critical mass, in addition to preferential relations with many companies in the language industry.

The BerbaTek project is geared towards applications. Without neglecting basic research, it will be endeavouring to present experimental applications which can subsequently be developed and turned into products by companies devoted to translation, language teaching or content. In any case, development geared towards applications and which has been found to be viable generates highly important basic as well as applied lines of research.

BerbaTek table

The importance of generating knowledge in the area of language technologies for voice and multimedia lies in their potential for application mainly in the language industry sector:

  • Translation: interpretation, dubbing, localization, human translation.
  • Content industry: Internet, audiovisual sector, multimedia, off- and on-line publishing, etc.
  • Training: language learning, technical and professional education, ongoing training, spreading of science, simulation of critical processes, etc.

Although there is no reason why they should not have applications in many other industrial sectors:

  • Telecommunications: voice, messaging, voice and data integration.
  • Telesales and telesupport: e-commerce, call centres, after-sales services, telebanking and all the forms of business that take place through the telecommunications networks.
  • Business processes: knowledge acquisition, publishing, localization and association of corporate information. Automatic office automation.
  • Interactive elements: control system, navigation and steering, both for global systems and for small pieces of equipment and domestic products, including home automated systems.
  • Leisure and entertainment: games, computer stories, adventures and virtual trips, etc.
  • Public Administration: citizens’ service (e-Government)

What is more, as the BerbaTek project is the first to include the different areas comprising the economic sector of the language industries as such, it is set to facilitate the structuring of the sector. The development of language technologies will also have a positive impact on the globalisation process of Basque companies of all kinds, as they will enable the leap to the multilingual scenario in which translation and language teaching are key factors to be addressed more effectively. Also the fact that the Basque Autonomous Community (region) is a multilingual community offers know-how and an unbeatable test bench for the development not only of language technologies, but also of the Language Industry, and offers a good starting point with a view to positioning the Basque Autonomous Community among top countries in language and voice technologies.