Language Engineering pages of the European Commission

Human Language Technologies (HLT) are regarded as central to the future of the information society, enabling multi-lingual communication and electronic commerce to flourish. The aim of language technology research in the EU is to empower the European citizen to work with different languages through the use of telematics systems and language based applications. It aims to harness speech and natural language processing to facilitate multi-lingual access to Internet services and web-based resources for businesses and other enterprises via financing. Language tools and resources are key to the efficient functioning of Europe in the emerging digital economy of the global marketplace.

Available on this server:

Coming soon
From January 2018, and with the advent of the Information Societies Technology Programme within the 5th Framework Programme, the old Language Engineering Sector of the Telematics Applications Programme will be rebranded as Human Language Technologies. To mark this change, and in order to continue to serve the Language Technologies community, the LINGLINK site www.linglink.lu will be relaunched as HLTCentral. This will be the springboard for access to Language Technology resources on the Web. The LE homepage will become the HLT homepage, and Le Journal will continue to bring the latest news, views and interviews. In addition, some advanced Language Technologies will be deployed on the site itself during 2018, and a moderated discussion group is planned. Many links to HLT web resources will be listed, and, in conjunction with the PROSOMA project, a HLT Showcase facility will be presented. HLTCentral will also be the prime source of information for assistance with project proposals resulting from calls under IST.

HLTCentral - Gateway to Speech & Language Technology Opportunities on the Web

HLTCentral web site was established as an online information resource of human language technologies and related topics of interest to the HLT community at large. It covers news, R&D;, technological and business developments in the areas of speech, language, multilinguality, automatic translation, localisation and related areas. It has a unique European perspective with a broad view of HLT news and developments worldwide.

HLTCentral is Powered by Two EU funded projects, ELSNET and EUROMAP :

HLT Overview - Loi Pinel 2019

Human Language Technologies RTD contributes to enhancing usability and accessibility of digital content and services while supporting linguistic diversity in Europe. It is part of the Multimedia Contents and Tools activity (Key Action III) of the Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme. IST is the largest single element of the Fifth Framework programme (FP5). Key Action III has a budget of 564 Meuro and brings together all RTD activities relating to digital content including tools to create, manage, deliver, retrieve and exchange it.

The IST Programme in FP5 (loi Pinel 2019) is funded at 3,600 MEUR which represents 26.3% of the total FP5 budget. It is designed to anticipate the needs of the converging telecommunications, computing and media industries, and related markets and technologies. It integrates all previous Community ICT activities (ESPRIT, ACTS and Telematics) into one programme, managed by one service - the Information Society Directorate (INFSO).

The preparations for the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) have already begun in earnest. More information on the preparatory activities can be found on the FP6 pages.

The overarching aim of HLT is to maximise the effectiveness and competitiveness of global business activities and to promote a truly human-centred infostructure ensuring equal access and usage opportunities for all. HLT actions initially addressed three intertwined areas centred around how people interact with information, with information services and with each other:

Multilingual communication, aimed at building multilingual intelligence into business processes, communication services, information appliances, and public interest services. Natural Interactivity, with the aim of enhancing the naturalness of human-computer interactions and the effectiveness of interpersonal communications. Cross-lingual information management, with a view to improving the effectiveness of information access and the efficiency of information handling. For more details about current and planned Human Language Technologies action lines in the IST Work Programme, follow the link. HLT projects with a total of around 150 partners are currently up and running from the first two IST calls for proposals. The first IST call, synchronised with a related call in the US NSF programme, was one of the largest ever with over 750 organisations from over 30 countries.

The 3 projects from the second call focus on language transfer, and a further 13 projects are currently under negotiation as a result of the third call focusing on cross-lingual information management and knowledge discovery. 36 proposals requesting 72 Meuro, from a total of 242 organisations in 24 countries, were evaluated from the third call

The HLT strand in the fourth IST call for proposals is multilingual communication services and appliances, one of 5 RTD lines focussing on creative, visual & mobile content. For more details on HLT in the fourth call which also covers Cross-Programme Action 2 - Natural interactions and dialogue modes, click here .

HLT was also present in Action Line 3 - Facilitating linguistic and cultural customisation of digital products and services - of the recent eContent call. Proposals were expected to encompass globalisation and localisation strategies and processes, different types of digital content and creation/delivery platforms, and to address any of the following application domains from a multilingual and cross-cultural design, authoring and delivery standpoint: e-Publishing; e-Broadcasting; Business-to-customer e-Commerce and e-Service; and Public Interest Services.

30 proposals were received from over 90 organisations in 13 Member States and two non-EU countries (Norway and Russia). The total value of the proposals amounted to nearly 13 Meuro (17 person-months per proposer), with a requested EU funding in the region of 7,1 Meuro. Preliminary analysis suggests that the consortia comprise 49 enterprises (almost exclusively mini and micro SMEs), 24 universities, 5 government and international bodies, and 14 non-governmental not-for-profit organisations.

Current HLT themes and priorities are built upon a substantial base of existing skills and knowledge acquired as a result of achievements in the EU's previous R&D; programmes and initiatives. Future market prospects for HLT-enabled systems and services are excellent due to the globalisation of the economy, opportunities from existing and emerging internet business models, and the increasingly important demand for more natural, effective and efficient user interfaces.

Preview of HLT in the IST 2001 Work Programme

The definitive IST Work Programme for 2001 in English is available for download here [Word.zip, 196KB]. Other language versions of the same document are available on the Cordis web site.

The following action lines are prominent for HLT:

Natural Interactivity is called in the 6th IST call published on 27 January 2001 The Multilingual Web is expected to be part of the 7th IST call scheduled for June 2001. Natural Interactivity The objective would be to progress towards more intuitive interaction with and effective use of intelligent network services and appliances. RTD would address both relatively short-term applicative showcases and longer-term research efforts aimed at robust dialogue and unconstrained speech/language understanding. The probable orientation towards middle-ware and embedded technologies would presuppose significant advances of the component technologies, and further progress towards their integration within mass-market products and services.

RTD would focus on the intersection of multilingual input/output with speech-, language- and multi-modal interaction and technology-mediated communication, and address service issues such as performance, reliability and scalability of embedded speech and language technologies.

RTD work in this area would enable more effective communication:

The Multingual Web

The objective would be to enable more effective multilingual features and functions of the Internet for personal development and informational purposes, and for enterprise knowledge management across languages and delivery platforms. This would be geared towards multilingual Web content, translation and cross-media delivery with a focus on wider availability and more effective production and use of multilingual information over fixed and mobile digital networks.

RTD work would address both integrative showcases and longer-term research endeavours with identifiable short-term spin-offs, probably encompassing three intertwined project lines:

IST Workprogramme 2000

Introduction

The Information Society theme in the 5th Framework Programme of EU RTD (as defined in the Commission's proposal for Creating a user friendly Information Society, hereinafter called the Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme) was agreed at the Council of Research Ministers on 22nd December 1998.

To implement the IST Programme, a workprogramme is developed and revised each year. The workprogramme recalls the structure of work as defined in Annex I to the Specific Programme Decision (namely “The General Outlines, the Scientific and Technological Objectives and the Priorities”). Within this setting, it then lays out the Action Lines for the Calls for Proposals to be published in calendar year 2000 and structures them in a way that reflects the nature of the programme and its Key Actions. Its aim is to foster user-supplier interactions that are essential for building a “user-friendly” Information Society.

Examples may be seen in the emergence of appliances for accessing both interactive and broadcasting services and in the development of intelligent home and office environments that provide users with easier and 'anytime-anywhere' access to services. In the last two years, Internet and mobile systems have played the major role in driving the development in the field. The move towards closer integration between internet-based, and fixed and mobile technologies as well as progress in middle-ware and multi-tier architectures are paving the way for the concrete realisation of a global distributed and shared infrastructure. RTD effort is leading to improved authentication techniques and more dependable systems. Ensuring more confidence in the technology and the related infrastructure is an essential condition for a broad acceptance of the Information Society by citizens.

Programme Objectives

The Context In the 12 months since the 1999 IST workprogramme was published, there has been a sustained growth in the development and use of Information Society technologies. The strong response to the first Call for proposals in 1999 has shown that the programme is well positioned not only to accelerate progress in technology and applications but also to foster user-supplier interactions that are essential for building a “user-friendly” Information Society.

The convergence of Information Society technologies and markets is leading to new products and services that are increasingly transforming our lives. Examples may be seen in the emergence of appliances for accessing both interactive and broadcasting services and in the development of intelligent home and office environments that provide users with easier and any-where access to services. The impact of IST on every-day’s activity is also raising people’s expectations for a better quality of life. As technology is becoming part of our normal surroundings, new tools for content creation and diffusion are providing individuals with powerful means to express ideas and develop their creativity for professional use or for leisure.

Challenges and Opportunities The above developments are setting the scene for a further expansion of the Information Society into an era where the technology will be all around us but almost invisible and where networked devices embedded in commonplace appliances enable people to have easier interactions with services.

Europe is well positioned to contribute significantly to the progress and shaping of this expansion of the Information Society. The vision should aim at developing an Information Society for all and should build on Europe’s demonstrated strengths in critical sectors such as mobile and fixed communications, consumer electronics, general electronic appliances, software and system integration, service systems innovation, digital broadcasting, rich content and network infrastructures.

The Programme Vision Services can be provided either by physical agents (e.g. home and consumer appliances, office equipment, cars etc.); or by virtual agents (e.g. information servers); or by interactions with other citizens (e.g. community and team building).

This vision promotes both ubiquity and user-friendliness of IST and focuses on the combination of the two concepts into “ambient intelligence” environments.

Priorities for WP2000
WP2000 is focussed on the challenges of realising the vision from its various perspectives including technology and applications as well as policy issues. The priorities for 2000 are:

A Single Integrated Architecture

The IST Programme is structured as four inter-related Key Actions (KA’s) all geared towards the achievement of the programme vision.

Integration at the programme level is a key feature of the IST Programme. The programme vision provides a key framework for such an integration. The KA’s and the Action Lines have been aligned with the “shared” priorities for WP2000. Specific measures are also included to further strengthen the programme integration:

First, “cross-programme” actions that focus on a limited number of specific themes relevant to the entire IST Programme. The aim is to ensure that the IST Programme supports in an effective way activities on specific challenges, and that participants in the programme can address the different facets of these themes in the different contexts that the programme provides. Second, “Clustering" will be used to focus, co-ordinate and integrate the results and on-going work of projects. The aim is to reinforce the complementarity of projects and the synergies derived from their work and to create a critical mass of resources focused upon issues of strategic importance. Third, while individual proposals will typically fall within the scope of a single Action Line, it is foreseen that proposals may have a scope which spans multiple Action Lines. Last but not least, to ensure critical mass and improve impact, this revised workprogramme includes several activities on “test-beds” within the Action Lines. Test-beds (presented in Annex 1)aim to develop technology and application platforms that would be made available to a large number of users for testing and benchmarking. Innovation in proposals can be in the form of novel products, services or applications. It can range from the development of novel techniques, systems and environments to the integration of new generation technologies in original ways. It can include development of novel business processes, new organisational practices or, more generally, novel forms of interaction between people and information, whether at work or in daily life.

Implementation

Chapter 3 of the 2000 IST Workprogramme covers the following:

Below, we include the detailed objectives of Key Action III and in particular the sections pertaining to Human Language Technologies.

Key Action III - MULTIMEDIA CONTENT AND TOOLS Objectives

“The aim of this work is to improve the functionality, usability and acceptability of future information products and services, to enable linguistic and cultural diversity and contribute to the valorisation and exploitation of Europe's cultural patrimony, to stimulate creativity, and to enhance education and training systems for lifelong learning. Work will cover new models, methods, technologies and systems for creating, processing, managing, networking, accessing and exploiting digital content, including audio-visual content. An important research dimension will be new socio-economic and technological models for representing information, knowledge and know-how. The work will address both applications-oriented research, focusing on publishing, audio-visual, culture and education and training, and generic research in language and content technologies for all applications areas, and will include validation, take-up, concertation and standards.”

Strategy, Architecture and Focus
The rapid convergence of mobile communication, digital broadcasting, rich content and network infrastructures opens up new challenges and opportunities for European citizens, businesses and public organisations. A critical aspect of this convergence is user-centred interactivity with rich multimedia content that enables natural and effective use of the emerging universal info-structure.

In WP2000, Key Action III is concentrating on the following inter-linked themes:

The implementation strategy for this Key Action combines applications-oriented research and generic research and development in a number of areas. RTD Action Lines are reinforced by take-up actions focussing on user-centred trials and best practice, specific support measures addressing working groups on standards and best practice, and awareness and dissemination.

RTD priorities in 2000 Work in Key Action III will focus on specific topics in the multimedia content value chain, where industry’s and society’s’ needs have become increasingly visible. These are:

III.3 Human Language Technologies

The objective of HLT is to support business activities in a global context and to promote a human-centred infostructure ensuring equal access and usage opportunities for all. This is to be achieved by developing and demonstrating multilingual technologies and exemplary applications providing functionalities that are critical for the realisation of a truly user friendly Information Society.

Work will address generic and applied RTD from a multi- and cross-lingual perspective, and will undertake to demonstrate how language specific solutions can be transferred to and adapted for other languages.

Multilingual annotated repositories of language and domain knowledge underpinning the above RTD lines will be addressed as well.

The main threads of research addressed by HLT are:

III.3 Human Language Technologies Natural Interactivity
Cross-lingual information management and knowledge discovery
Multilingual communication services and appliances
Trials and best practice in multilingual e-service and e-commerce (Take-up)

III.3.1 Natural interactivity
Objectives: To enhance the naturalness of interaction between humans and digital services and devices, the ease of use of computer systems in non-expert environments, and the richness and effectiveness of technology-mediated interpersonal communication.

Focus: The strategic focus is on achieving a fuller integration of the speech and language processing communities with other related research communities, thus providing a convergent path for multi-disciplinary collaborations. RTD will be geared towards unrestricted speech and language input-output, multimodal dialogues and keyboard-less operation, and understanding of messages and communicative acts. Work will encompass:

enabling research and technologies aimed at enhancing the naturalness of conversational interfaces through the integration of multiple modalities, in particular by coupling robust speech recognition and language understanding techniques with facial expression and gesture recognition and rendering, and considering anticipatory characteristics of dialogues; applied research and integrative showcases addressing human-computer interaction making use of multiple cognitive features and communicative acts, for interpersonal communication and interaction with virtual worlds, synthetic personae and multimedia systems.
Type of Actions addressed: RTD

III.3.2 Cross-lingual information management and knowledge discovery
Objectives: To empower people confronted with large quantities of digital information and to support them in knowledge intensive tasks, by exploiting the linguistic knowledge embodied in documents, messages, dialogues and audio-visual objects.

Focus: More intuitive and effective use and assimilation of information content through RTD addressing intelligent agents applying language-processing models and techniques for

cross-lingual information retrieval and categorisation; information ranking and profiling according to pre-set and dynamically adjustable relevance criteria; topic identification and summarisation, both within and across documents; deep semantic information analysis, knowledge detection and extraction, including entity recognition and fact extraction, and name and event correlation. The information may be either structured (e.g. published text) or unstructured (e.g. e-mail, transcriptions of speeches) and is expected to exhibit a combination of text, speech and multimedia features.

RTD will address both applications-oriented showcases and longer-term research challenges, and is expected to build on and interact with concurrent developments at national and international level.

Type of Actions addressed: RTD

III.3.3 Multilingual communication services and appliances
Objectives: The overall goal is to make interaction with fixed and mobile communication services and appliances possible independent(ly) from the language of the user, and in particular to progress towards a much wider provision of multilingual capabilities within the universal infostructure underpinning the Information Society?

Focus: RTD will concentrate on the development and validation of robust methods and components for multilingual interpersonal and group communication, e.g. within multi-channel messaging and conferencing systems, including

adaptive multilingual interfaces to personal appliances and consumer devices, including e.g. mobiles, palm-tops, on-board devices and set-tops; cross-modal information selection, conversion and rendering (text, speech, multimedia) according to the capabilities of the access point; and will address service issues such as robustness and real-time performance of embedded language technologies, their scalability and portability across languages and technical platforms, and hardware/software integration within the hosting system. Type of Actions addressed: RTD

III.3.4 Trials and best practice in multilingual e-service and e-commerce
Objectives: To stimulate new forms of partnership between technology providers, system integrators and launching users through trials and best practice actions addressing end-to-end multi-language platforms and solutions for e-service and e-commerce.

Focus is on demonstrating and assessing the impact of innovative approaches (e.g. provision of multilingual and multi-cultural on-line content, Web enabled call centres and multi-access portals, multilingual transactions and customer-relationship management, etc.) on business patterns and capabilities, and customer behaviour and acceptance.

Type of Actions addressed: Trials and best practice

Types of Actions Supported

1- KA3 Specific Support Measures This Action Line of support measures aims to increase the overall impact of the RTD work while stimulating synergies across disciplines and communities and building a critical mass of actors. It is synchronised with the RTD Action Lines (below).

Priority is given to working groups and awareness. Other measures like project clustering and studies can be addressed through the general IST programme support measures.

Working groups and dissemination and awareness actions

Working groups for the stimulation and consolidation of standards and best practice work both at European and global level, in both formal and informal forums and involving national bodies, in the following areas:

2- Cross-Programme Themes and CPA's
Cross-programme themes are the practical manifestations the integrated nature of the IST Programme and of the underlying convergence of information processing, communications and media.

The idea behind CPA's (Cross-Programme Actions) is to allow proposals on themes which span more than one Key Action. Cross-programme Action Lines are a strong integration mechanism that allows proposers the flexibility to address multi-disciplinary and multi-purpose RTD related to more than one Key Action, in a coherent way. The projects arising from Cross-programme Action Lines should seek to work closely with the most relevant projects in the Key Actions.

The most relevant CPA for Human Language Technologies is:

CPA2: User friendliness, human factors, multilingual and multi-modal dialogue modes

Objective: To improve the effectiveness of the interaction between people, information appliances and information services through the integration and use of multiple modalities, including language, gestures, emotions, augmented, synthetic and virtual reality. The expected benefits are easier and more flexible access to information and services and, therefore, acceptance by a wider section of users.

Focus: Focus will be on system-level integration of component technology. The work will consist of the novel integration of interaction modalities fitting specific uses and individual requirements, and supporting ubiquity of access.

Type of actions addressed: RTD

3- IST Support Activities
The support measures and Action Lines described in this section confine themselves to the more common issues where more than one part of the programme is essentially seeking the same kind of support.

The IST Programme also specifically encourages the formation of clusters of RTD projects (sharing common objectives), concertation between projects (needing to exchange information), and working groups and networks of excellence (to encourage flexible collaboration between leading researchers both inside and outside of this programme). Support to the standards and pre-standards process are encouraged in all areas.

Networks of Excellence and Working Groups

Networks of Excellence: aim at bringing together a critical mass of industrial and academic research groups to co-ordinate their research or other activities in order to advance towards common strategic goals. Networks of Excellence can be particularly beneficial for groups and organisations in outlying regions through the channel they provide for training, technology transfer, and access to expertise and resources. Working Groups: aim at improving the systematic exchange of information and the forging of links between teams which share a common theme in RTD or take-up activities Working groups and networks of excellence are also used to support co-operation in areas that are complementary to the RTD work such as fostering the entrepreneur-ship culture in academic curricula and normalisation and standardisation activities.

Type of actions addressed: Thematic networks

Enabling RTD Co-operation with Newly Associated States

Objectives: To build awareness of IST and facilitate the formation of project consortia that will include partners from the Newly Associated States

Enabling RTD Co-operation with 3rd Counties

Objectives: To build awareness of IST and facilitate the formation of project consortia that will include partners from 3rd countries. To support and develop more efficient means of co-operation with such countries.

Co-ordination Arrangements with other EU research Initiatives, and Related support measures

International co-operation activities will be implemented through the participation in the IST Programme of entities from non-EU countries, the co-ordination of activities with European and non-European schemes outside of the IST Programme, and dedicated accompanying measures.

Participation in the IST Programme is open to entities from associated states, and countries with S&T; agreements with the EU in the area of Information Society technologies, and on a project-by-project basis to international organisations, as well as entities from other countries.

Cross participation in other major RTD frameworks (such as the ATP programme in the US, “Electronic Commerce” programmes of MPT and MITI in Japan, and established frameworks such as IMS) on specific Action Lines in the Programme will be stimulated through the co-ordination or synchronisation of focused Calls for Proposals. Considering the unique skills encompassed by the Human Frontier Science Programme (HFSP), a subvention will be made available for the whole duration of the 5th Framework Programme.

IST Programme

Introduction
The strategic objective of the Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme is to realise the benefits of the information society for Europe both by accelerating its emergence and by ensuring that the needs of individuals and enterprises are met.

The IST Programme has four inter-related objectives:

For the private individual - to meet the need and expectation of high-quality affordable general interest services. For Europe’s enterprises, workers and consumers - to enable individuals and organisations to innovate and be more effective and efficient, thereby providing the basis for sustainable growth and high added-value employment while also improving the quality of working life. In the sector of multimedia content - to confirm Europe as a leading force. For the enabling technologies - to drive development, enhance applicability and accelerate take-up in Europe. The Programme vision is very simple: "Our surrounding is the interface" to a universe of integrated services. This will enable people to access systems and services wherever they are, whenever they want, and in the form that is most "natural" for them. While directly targeting the improvement of quality of life and work, the vision is expected to act as a catalyst for business opportunities from added-value services and products.

The IST Work Programme 2000 (Extracts) describes the objectives and the RTD priorities in detail and is adapted each year to ensure its continued relevance in the light of evolving needs and developments. It indicates which parts of the Workprogramme are opened by Calls for Proposals in the current year, and it also gives an outline plan for the following year.

Programme structure
The IST Programme contains four inter-related key actions which define research priorities:

(1) Systems and services for the citizen – to meet the needs and expectations of European citizens for high quality and affordable services of general interest. RTD will be carried out in the fields of health, people with special needs (including the elderly and disabled), administrations, environment and transport.

(2) New methods of work and electronic commerce – to enable individuals and organisations to innovate and be more effective and efficient in their work and businesses, to increase competitiveness while improving the quality of working life and consumer confidence.

(3) Multimedia content and tools – to confirm Europe as a leading force and enable it to realise the potential of its creativity and culture. It will address issues such as interactive electronic publishing, digital heritage and cultural content, education and training, human language technologies and information access, filtering and handling.

(4) Essential technologies and infrastructures – to further the development of technologies and infrastructures common to more than one application, enhance their applicability and accelerate their take-up.

The programme structure also includes "cross-programme themes" that aim to support the integration of work at the programme level for topics which cut across the programme architecture.

To ensure the programme remains open to new research ideas, the four key actions are balanced with a future and emerging technologies (FET) action, with a visionary and exploratory perspective. This involves research of a longer-term or particularly high risk nature, but which promise major advance and potential for significant industrial and societal impact.

FP6 The way forward

FP6 - Prelude

IST - FP6The European Commission's Proposal for the 6th Framework programme (FP6) [PDF, 436KB] — the follow-on to the current FP5 Programme — was published on 21 February 2001. The field of Information Society Technologies (IST) is the principal thematic priority of this programme, with an estimated budget of €3600 million. Definition of the work under IST is currently well under way.

As a first step in the definition of the activities to be launched between 2002 - 2006, the Commission (DG INFSO) organised a set of consultations with industry and academia on the content and implementation of IST in FP6. These consultations started in April 2001 and will last until October 2002. Details of the early consultation meeting on Multisensorial, Multilingual Interfaces and Virtual Environments held in Brussels on 26-27 April are available from the link.

Invitation to Submit An Expressions of Interest On 1 April 2002, an invitation to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) was launched to allow interested parties to propose ideas. The deadline for this is 7 June 2002.

You can access the necessary background documents, including a description of the IST research priorities of the programme by following the link. In addition documents needed to prepare an EoI are available for download from the CORDIS FP6 web pages. Other background documents can be found in the following section.

Forthcoming IST workshops

The European Commission is organising a number of thematic workshops to disseminate awaremess of the FP6 programme and to also provide a better understanding of the principles and instruments of FP6. The list of all events is available from the ISTWeb FP6 pages. Background documents As background to the activities leading up to the launch of FP6 programme, here are a number of useful documents and information sources:

Interface Technologies specific

General

IST - Actions envisaged

The actions undertaken will address the following technological priorities. [HLT-related developments fall under the section "Information management and interfaces"]

Integrating research into technological areas of priority interest for citizens and businesses Completing and building on progress expected in the development of basic technologies, research aimed at finding solutions for major societal and economic challenges and, accordingly, focusing on:

Communication and computing infrastructures

Information access, transmission, storage, distribution and location systems intended to meet the growing needs for the connectivity and processing of information, with the research effort relating to communication and computing infrastructure addressing as a matter of priority:

the new generations of wireless and mobile communications systems and networks; satellite communications systems; all-optical technologies; integration and management of communication networks; capacity-enhancing technologies necessary for the development of systems, infrastructures and services, in particular for audiovisual applications; software technologies and architectures assuring multifunctional services and distributed systems; engineering and control of complex and large-scale systems to ensure reliability and robustness.

Components and microsystems

Miniaturised and low-cost components based on new materials and integrating extended functionalities, with the effort focusing on:

the design and production of micro- and opto-electronic and photonic components; nanoelectronics, microtechnologies and microsystems, and multidisciplinary research into new materials and quantum devices; new computing models and concepts.

Information management and interfaces

Research into information management tools and interfaces, with a view to enabling easier interaction everywhere and at all times with knowledge-based services and applications, addressing:

knowledge representation and management systems based on context and semantics, including cognitive systems, as well as tools for creating, organising, sharing and disseminating digital content; multisensorial interfaces capable of understanding and interpreting the natural expression of human beings through words, gestures and the various senses, virtual environments, as well as multilinguistic and multicultural systems indispensable to the establishment of the knowledge-based society on a European scale.

EU achievements

In the early nineties, the Third Framework Programme was launched, encouraging, among other things, better collaboration with public and private sectors, academic institutions, and individuals. Within it, Linguistic Research and Engineering (LRE) under the Telematics Applications Programme, developed essential natural language and speech technologies, and components that could be incorporated into information systems and services.

LRE aimed at pre-competitive, generic technologies and promoting industrial participation. Activities did not lead directly to finished products, but concentrated on providing enabling technologies and opportunities for inter-working between proprietary solutions, and on defining standards and common reference architectures. It also sought to stimulate the development of pilot applications and demonstration projects to show how language technologies could be used, and to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the solutions.

Towards the end of the Third Framework Programme, the Multilingual Action Plan (MLAP) was introduced with a call for exploratory projects to ensure continuity and prepare for the Fourth Framework Programme. LRE and MLAP together funded over fifty projects, with a significant number of user organisations from both small and medium sized enterprises and multinationals. While research results were always of a high standard, commercial exploitation was somewhat disappointing.

In the Fourth Framework Programme the importance of language engineering was recognised with a significant increase in budget to over 80 million ECU with the focus on user driven, application oriented projects, designed to stimulate and respond to market needs. The central aim was to promote the use of telematics applications through the use of language technologies so as to facilitate communication in and between different European languages. Work was focused on projects which integrated new methods of processing spoken and written language into information and communications systems and services, with a view to improving their usability, accessibility and functionality.

Support was provided for developing re-usable language resources and for developing and promoting pre-normative guidelines, assessment methods and performance analysis techniques. Support actions addressed the development and dissemination of common specifications and standards, and stimulated the wider distribution and re-use of multi-purpose language resources and techniques.

User involvement increased significantly with around 500 organisations participating in projects launched since 1995. More than 60% of the human and financial resources deployed in these projects originated from industrial and user organisations. User involvement was drawn from a wide range of groups:

Projects in the Multilingual Information Society Programme (MLIS) complement activities that support multilinguality, exploit existing experiences and knowledge of multilingual issues and solutions, and mobilise players in both the public and private sectors to:

Future Prospects

Current Status

Today many of the initiatives taken through research and technological programmes in Europe are bearing fruit. Recent feature articles in the mainstream business and technology press indicate a change in the market significance of speech and natural language applications. Europe has been prominent in these developments and much of the technology available in other parts of the world is licensed from successful European suppliers.

The success of language engineering research and technological development in Europe is bound to have an impact on our economic future because it can be applied across such a wide range of information systems and services with such significant benefits.

European programmes have certainly helped to raise industrial interest. Products and services are being launched which demonstrate what can be achieved. The need now is for fresh, innovative ideas on future applications in attractive emerging markets.

The Market Outlook

The convergence of technologies for creating, managing and communicating information has expanded the opportunities and the need for HLT. The explosion of Internet access has created a platform for networked computing, with an associated expansion in the range of devices through which information can be delivered and accessed.

New platforms, coupled with high communication bandwidth, enable the delivery of complex multimedia information. This emerging landscape requires more advanced information-handling techniques, where HLT components will be key elements. Deregulation and industry consolidation in the telecommunications sector exaggerate these trends and the need for differentiation through the introduction of innovative value-added services.

The information society will permeate virtually every area of life involving interactions between people and organisations, in both the public and private spheres. HLT will enable the information society through intuitive, human-centred modes of interaction with products and services. These will include spoken interaction, removing the need for keyboards and keypads, the use of many different languages to process information and interact with devices - as well as the ability to communicate across language barriers.

This information infrastructure, or infostructure, underpins new social and economic formations in which HLT will be applied. Generic services for voice and message communication are at the heart of the infostructure, and HLT is rapidly being deployed in many applications. Traditional voice telephony is already highly automated, with the worldwide market for voice processing systems already estimated to be worth $5.8 billion. In the near term, small vocabulary systems will be universally available in all major EU languages for services such as advanced voice-controlled electronic assistants. This is software installed in a carrier’s network that manages interpersonal communications by performing a variety of tasks, all through spoken commands. They can handle faxes and email, help handle multiple calls, make conference calls, retrieve voice messages from other systems, send group messages, and remember follow-up calls and action items.

Electronic commerce and call-centre based applications, including telephone and online sales, service and support, will likewise be an important area for new HLT applications in TeleBusiness. Telephone call centres are being combined with Web-based service and support sites, bringing opportunities to integrate speech and text applications in the quest for better customer relationship management. The result is estimated to be a major new services market generating more than $3.5 billion in annual revenues by 2005. The number of call centre agents is expected to double by 2005 , and nearly 25% of them are forecast to use some type of network-based service. Suppliers in the telemarketing and support market will invest substantial sums in technology in order to remain competitive.

Web portal services and e-commerce vendors must provide customers with navigation aids and ways to interact with electronic ‘storefronts’. While all markets will need the intelligent retrieval and filtering capabilities of LT, in Europe there is a particular need for multilingual access interfaces. Entertainment will be a strong draw for online consumer services especially for the currently estimated number of net users who increasingly demand more interactivity and customisation.

While most EU financial institutions have web sites, online financial information and brokerage services are more advanced in the US than in Europe. European-based services are likely to take hold in the medium term where information profiling, filtering and extraction together with voice recognition and speaker identification will be key features of systems helping the estimated 10 million Europeans seeking financial guidance over the net by 2002.

According to Datamonitor, the European Intranet services market is expected to generate revenue of $5.2 billion by 2003, over seven times its current value of $720 million. Networked business processes are becoming the rule rather than the exception, which make knowledge management and workflow support key requirements for successful, competitive businesses. Key LT components of corporate intranet applications will be information retrieval and extraction, speech-enabled automated assistants, and tools to support multilingual creation of and access to corporate information.

The localisation industry, which is already heavily concentrated in Europe, will thrive in a commercial publishing world that is being transformed by electronic delivery, and where publishing, video/film, audio/music, and information provision are all converging. Globalisation services, which include authoring for international markets, translation, cultural adaptation, and software localisation, will move from the software industry into the mainstream of corporate publishing. At the same time, language processing tools which support globalisation will find new and expanded markets in many sectors with digital multimedia content.

EC Team

Giovanni VARILE | 32867 | 34999 | Giovanni.VARILE@cec.eu.int Philippe GELIN | 33423 | 34999 | Philippe.GELIN@cec.eu.int Patrice HUSSON | 38178 | 34999 | Patrice.HUSSON@cec.eu.int Mats LJUNGQVIST | 38078 | 34999 | Mats.LJUNGQVIST@cec.eu.int Brian MACKLIN | 38208 | 34999 | Brian.MACKLIN@cec.eu.int Evangelia MARKIDOU | 35222 | 34999 | Evangelia.MARKIDOU@cec.eu.int Yves PATERNOSTER | 37117 | 34999 | Yves.PATERNOSTER@cec.eu.int Domenico PERROTTA | 38257 | 34999 | Domenico.PERROTTA@cec.eu.int Kimmo ROSSI | 32396 | 34999 | Kimmo.ROSSI@cec.eu.int Erwin VALENTINI | 32753 | 34999 | Erwin.VALENTINI@cec.eu.int Valérie BENOIST-BABAJAN | 33528 | 33169 | Valerie.BENOIST-BABAJAN@cec.eu.int Jean-Marie BOLIS | 33243 | 33169 | Jean-Marie.BOLIS@cec.eu.int Fatima HENRIQUES | 32012 | 33169 | Fatima.HENRIQUES@cec.eu.int Riitta IMMONEN | 38077 | 33169 | Riitta.IMMONEN@cec.eu.int Jacqueline KLEIN | 33734 | 33169 | Jacqueline.KLEIN@cec.eu.int Monique KNEIP | 32857 | 33169 | Monique.KNEIP@cec.eu.int Emmanuelle PIERGIORGI | 38146 | 33169 | Emmanuelle.PIERGIORGI@cec.eu.int Nathalie SOTTIAUX | 34943 | 33169 | Nathalie.SOTTIAUX@cec.eu.int Valérie TRENTELS | 32051 | 33169 | Valerie.TRENTELS@cec.eu.int

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