On June 30, the Telecom and Media Systems Group of the IBM Haifa Research Lab hosted a full-day leadership seminar focusing on speech technology. More than 100 participants from universities, IT companies, and research facilities throughout Israel attended the seminar. Companies such as ART, Intel, NSC, and Phonetic Systems were represented at the seminar. Representatives of such academic institutions as the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Ben-Gurion University, and the Weizmann Institute of Science were also in attendance.
The seminar lectures focused on a variety of speech-recognition technologies, an industry that Allied Business Intelligence predicts will grow to revenues of more than $5 billion by 2008. Speakers discussed such issues as advances in hands-free dialing of cellular phones, speaker detection in teleconferences with multiple participants, and embedded speech recognition for mass-market mobile devices.
Much attention was garnered by the keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Picheny from IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center in New York, who described the work he and his team are doing on the MALACH project. MALACH is an effort to develop advanced speech recognition and information retrieval technologies to catalog massive audio archives. Picheny's research focuses on more than 100,000 recorded hours of interviews with survivors of the Holocaust, taken as part of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation (VHF).
The seminar was organized by Ron Hoory, leader of the Speech Team at the IBM Haifa Labs, and Zohar Sivan, manager of the Telecom and Media Systems Group in Haifa.
"We were pleasantly surprised at the large number of people interested in attending. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and encourage cooperation among people in the speech technology field," noted Hoory.
"The seminar has helped position the IBM Haifa Research Lab as a leader in the Israeli speech technology community," added Sivan. "We hope it will lead to tighter cooperation between local industry and academia."
Responses from seminar participants were uniformly positive. Some called upon the IBM Haifa team to make the seminar a regular event, while others praised the day's organization and interesting lectures. The group will be hosting a related seminar on the topic of multimedia later this year.
The Telecom and Media Systems Group has worked on a number of projects in recent years at the forefront of the field of speech technology. Some of these projects include the construction of a low-footprint concatenative text-to-speech system suitable for embedded platforms and the development of a system for Hebrew speech recognition. The group has also led efforts to create an international standard in the area of Distributed Speech Recognition (DSR) systems for mobile speech-enabled services.