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In an increasingly globalised world, interpreters who speak two or more languages can often find themselves in the odd position of having to explain how to a new speaker to help them understand what they’re saying.
But what if you could simply speak to a computer and get a translation for free?
That’s what a new startup called Erika is offering to help interpreters, and now it’s set to launch in Australia.
“We’ve been able to get our hands on a very large amount of data on how many people can speak different languages,” says Erika’s CEO and founder, Matthew Jones.
“That data is in our database, and we’ve been working with a lot of people who can do that to translate what we’re saying.”
To make it easier for other interpreters to learn English, Erika has developed a system called the Erika-E-DAT, which is based on an existing translation tool called Lexica.
This tool, which can help people communicate in multiple languages, allows Erika to help people with disabilities who are either deaf or hard of hearing.
Jones says the technology is being used by hundreds of people to help their colleagues understand what he describes as “a vast amount of information.”
“We have a number of people that are just trying to understand the same thing that we’re trying to do,” he says.
“So there’s an immense amount of potential here.
It’s a great tool to help the interpreters get more proficient.”
To help people understand what Erika can translate, the company partnered with a team of translators to help create a series of free videos, called the Esoteric Interpretation Project.
Jones says the videos are designed to help other people understand the meaning of what he and his team of interpreters are translating.
“They’re actually quite a bit of a challenge for them,” Jones says.
“They’re really complicated.”
Jones says that the video tutorials are designed specifically to help deaf people with a wide range of speech problems.
He says the video examples show how to translate complex sentences and even complex verbs.
“Some of these are just like you could understand if you were a deaf person, but they don’t work for deaf people,” he explains.
“This is something that they’re actually learning from a video that is a really easy way to start learning a language.”
The video tutorials will be made available for free on the Erosa website in the coming weeks, and the company plans to offer a number more in the future.
Jones believes the videos will help people learn how to use the E-DATS to help others.
“I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of that,” he said.
“It’s not something that just happens.
We’ve worked really hard to get this program out there and people are going to be able to use it in their everyday lives.”
Jones hopes the EDSAT could help people in other languages as well.
“In terms of the ETS [English-to-Spanish] language test, we’re talking about 10 languages right now,” he explained.
“I’m really excited about the potential of it, it’s really going to open up a lot for people in their lives.”
For now, ErosiAus is offering the Elyssa app, which allows users to ask their mobile phone number and receive a translation of their request, for free.
The company is also in talks to launch its own app in the next few months.
Jones said Erosia is targeting two groups of people.
“There’s the deaf, the people who are deaf-blind, and then there’s people who have hearing issues, like some people with low-signing, some people who just need to speak,” he told Business Insider.
“And then there are people who need more help with translation, like people who speak a foreign language, or people who don’t understand the difference between an ‘e’ and an ‘o’.”
It’s the people with different kinds of challenges that we are going after, and it’s the way we can work with the people that we have to.
“Erosi says it’s hoping to expand to other languages by the end of this year.
We have about 15 people working on it, and in Australia, it is going to become more of a priority.”
In an increasingly globalised world, interpreters who speak two or more languages can often find themselves in the odd position…