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Growing phenomenon of Indian language inclusion in the internet

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There is a growing phenomenon in India that seems have shed light on the root cause behind the difficulties in bringing those without access to the internet. Many social media and e-commerce web portals have begun to make available their content in various regional languages.

Here are the major organizations that have expanded to include Indian vernacular languages.

Facebook

In 2012 social networking website Facebook announced that it would be made available in eight regional Indian languages. These include Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali and Marathi.

It said during the launch that “with over 50 million people in India on Facebook, we want to make sure that everyone has a great Facebook mobile experience regardless of the device that they choose to use,” Facebook’s Country Growth Manager Kevin D’Souza said in a statement.”

Since then it has had its Indian user base, its second-biggest market globally, grown to 125 million by June 2015.

Snapdeal

Snapdeal became the first e-commerce portal in India to offer its content to users in multiple regional languages.

On December 15, 2015, it launched its multilingual interface with an aim of bringing more Indians to shop online by surmounting the language barrier. Hindi and Telegu have already been available for its mobile interface.

Other Indian languages will be made available by Jan 26th, in time for India’s Republic day. These languages include – Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Assamese and Punjabi.

Rohit Bansal, co-founder of Snapdeal, pointed out the advantages of such a move during the launch.

 “Customers are at the heart of everything we do and we are excited about using technology to make the experience more authentic for our users. India’s linguistic diversity is a huge opportunity to expand the market to include those users who would prefer to engage online in their native languages. Our decision to go multi-lingual is driven by the feedback that we have received from our users. We are sure this will enable millions of new users to join the digital commerce revolution that is sweeping across India. Snapdeal’s multi-lingual platform will redefine the rules of the game and will allow sellers and buyers from all across India to explore and transact without any constraints of language,” he said.

Quikr

Following the announcement of Snapdeal, the Indian classified advertising site – Quikr – launched seven vernacular language interfaces for its website. The languages were Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Gujarati and Marathi to browse as well as post ads in.

This feature would open doors for many uninitiated but aspiring Indians. It would allow consumers to browse, search, post ads and interact with buyers and sellers in their language of choice.

Speaking at the launch, Pranay Chulet, Founder and CEO, Quikr said, “We are a made in India business that has always focused on what the Indian consumer needs. With Indian internet expanding beyond air-conditioned offices and homes and into the streets of the country, local languages are definitely the next frontier for us. I strongly believe that language should no longer be a barrier for people seeking to transact online and am super excited about the strong response our verticals such as QuikrC2C and QuikrJobs have already received in local languages.”

Twitter

In 2015, micro-blogging website twitter made itself accessible in four more Indian languages, which include Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil. “We’ve updated Twitter.com and the android app to support these additional Indian languages,” it said in a statement.

Earlier it was available in Hindi and Bengali before the four languages were added.

Moreover, it has also launched hashtags in other Indian languages.

“We’re excited to announce we’ve rolled out hashtags, not just in Hindi, but also in all Devanagari script based languages: Marathi, Sanskrit and even Nepali, as well as Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi, Gujarati, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada,”  it said in a statement.

(Inputs from Rajesh Ghosh)

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Blind Facebook employee is developing tech for sightless

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform.

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A visually impaired Facebook employee is developing technology to make Facebook more fun for the sightless. Pixabay
A visually impaired Facebook employee is developing technology to make Facebook more fun for the sightless. Pixabay
  • A blind Facebook employee is developing AI to make social network for sightless fun
  • He is developing AI which will verbalise images and videos
  • This technology will enable alt-text for images and videos

A blind Facebook employee is developing a technology that will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to verbalise the content of an image or video and enable the visually impaired to “see” and determine appropriate content for people and advertisers.

Facebook engineer Matt King is leading a project that is making solutions for visually impaired people on the platform that could eventually be used to identify images and videos that violate Facebook’s terms of use or that advertisers want to avoid.

Also Read : Facebook might bring Stories on desktop 

This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters
This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters

“More than two billion photos are shared across Facebook every single day. That’s a situation where a machine-based solution adds a lot more value than a human-based solution ever could,” CNBC quoted King as saying late on Saturday.

King, who was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, lost his vision by the time he got his degree and started working at IBM with the tech giant’s accessibility projects.

He worked on a screen reader to help visually impaired people “see” what is on their screens either through audio cues or a braille device. IBM eventually developed the first screen reader for a graphical interface.

He worked with the accessibility team till Facebook hired him from IBM in 2015.

The man behind this development is Matt King.
The man behind this development is Matt King.

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform, like adding captions to videos or coming up with ways to navigate the site using only audio cues.

“Anybody who has any kind of disability can benefit from Facebook. They can develop beneficial connections and understand their disability doesn’t have to define them, to limit them,” King said.

Also Read : Facebook Profit Escalates with No Major Impact from Russia and it’s Advertisements

One of his main projects is “automated alt-text,” which describes audibly what is in Facebook images.

When automated alt-text was launched in April 2016, it was only available in five languages on the iOS app. Today it is available in over 29 languages on Facebook on the web, iOS and Android.

Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay
Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay

“The things people post most frequently kind of has a limited vocabulary associated with it,” the Facebook engineer said.

“It makes it possible for us to have one of those situations where if you can tackle 20 per cent of the solution, it tackles 80 per cent of the problem. It’s getting that last 20 per cent which is a lot of work, but we’re getting there,” he said.

In December 2017, Facebook pushed an automatic alt-text update that used facial recognition to help visually impaired people find out who is in photos. IANS