Talk to Your Devices in a New Robot Language
Sometimes it's hard to get your smartphone's voice recognition to understand what you're saying. Now one group of researchers has thought of an unusual solution: An entirely new language, scientifically crafted to be as clear as possible, for talking with robots.
The language, called Robot Interaction Language or ROILA, has been under development since 2009. Now, researchers have released all the tools people need to learn and use it. There's a book for learning ROILA, plus an online class. A free software download adds ROILA to electronic devices.
ROILA's creators took a high-tech, logical approach to developing the futuristic language, the New Zealand news show Close Up reported. They reviewed 22 already existing languages, searching for sounds common to many languages. They wanted "all the phonemes that really everybody can pronounce," Christoph Bartneck, a human-computer interaction researcher at the University of Canterbury, told Close Up.
Bartneck and his colleagues then used a computer program to automatically stitch together words using those phonemes, such that the words sound as distinct from each other as possible. Their clarity makes robots less likely to confuse similar-sounding words.
Lastly, ROILA's creators developed a regular, easy-to-learn grammar for the new language.
Whether ROILA catches on remains to be seen. Yet there's at least one ROILA speaker out there who is learning the language at a young enough age for it to really stick. Close Up showed a six-year-old girl speaking in ROILA with a Nao robot. Hanna, Close Up reported, also knows English, Japanese and German.