According to UNESCO, minimum 2,572 of the world’s recorded 6,000 languages are endangered. With many indigenous languages worldwide becoming endangered due to a dwindling number of native speakers, Google has introduced the app Woolaroo which focuses on learning these languages. This open-source, artificial intelligence-based tool is built with the primary aim of teaching and preserving endangered languages. Both Google Translate and Cloud Vision were used in the development of Woolaroo.
Built using Google Translate and Cloud Vision, Woolaroo works by aiming the camera at any object and the AI will detect and identify it in a specified language along with pronunciation. If multiple objects are detected in a photo, users can scroll through and select the translation based on each object. Today it supports 10 global languages including Louisiana Creole, Calabrian Greek, Māori, Nawat, Tamazight, Sicilian, Yang Zhuang, Rapa Nui, Yiddish and Yugambeh. These languages can be easily translated into French, Spanish, or English.
Woolaroo’s real strength lies in its openness. This feature can be used by different communities to extend their vocabulary words on their own contexts. So, if there is a doubt that certain words are not added in the software, one can actually enlist the word and audio recording easily to help with pronunciation. This means that if a user speaks even just a few words in any of these languages, they can make a significant contribution to Woolaroo community.
We’re sure that by means of Woolaroo people will enjoy learning and interacting with a new language and learn about the diversity of communities and heritage we all share together. It will help in keeping the historical significance of these languages alive, rather than being lost in the pages of the past.