Natural Language Processing You Can Afford. Yes, You!!

I’m not a linguist. Quite honestly, the vast majority of what LinguaSys is offering (for free for up to 20 API calls a minute and up to 500 calls a month, I might add) in their robust GlobalNLP platform are things I don’t even understand (lemmatization, stemming, and morphological synthesis anyone?). But what I do get is that GlobalNLP offers a ton of extremely useful capability to anyone who needs to process language input to run their applications. In fact, the GlobalNLP platform is built on LinguaSys’s Carabao Linguistic Virtual Machine, offering the same tools and underlying semantic library that’s used by top companies to process language input in a multitude of different languages for a variety of business critical use cases.

GlobalNLPI signed up for the developer platform and tried it out as best I could. Though I’m not a programmer, the API library is super easy to use and it even comes with a testing function. You can actually execute the APIs right from the library without any need for setting up a development platform. The “Open Console” feature allows you to input data into all the API’s parameters and execute the function. The resulting output is published at the bottom of the screen, so you can see exactly what you’d get if you were running the API from your own program.

The GlobalNLP is a full suite of tools. There are APIs for detecting the language, parsing sentences, translating, and more. The site comes with a very thorough Q&A section, lots of helpful documentation, and an online support forum.  Each API also comes with helpful source code examples in a wide variety of popular programming languages.

I put several of the APIs through their paces. The detectlanguage API does a great job at ferreting out the language of text input. I tried some German, French, and Spanish and the API always came back with the correct answer. I even tried to trick is by entering a mix of languages, but it did a good job at determining which one was dominant in the phrase.

GlobalNLPThe parse API is fun to use, as well as the listSenses API, which helps to decipher the words in a search query, enabling you to better understand the user’s intent with the search. The translate function is fun to try out too, although it’s not designed to compete with human translation. Instead, the LinguaSys automated translation is based on a semantic model that is intended to give you a gist of the source.

If you’re developing an app that needs to interpret language input in different languages, or if you want your existing app to go global, you’ll definitely want to explore the possibilities offered by LinguaSys’s GlobalNLP.

LinguaSys – Helping Intelligent Assistants Understand Us

At the recent SpeechTek 2014 event, I had an opportunity to speak with Brian Garr, Chief Executive Officer of LinguaSys, a very interesting company in the Natural Language Understanding space. The prevalence of speech-enabled applications and devices has increased exponentially in the past five years. We can talk to our smartphones, our cars, and even our home appliances. Soon we’ll be conversing with social robots like Ubi and Jibo. Speech recognition technology has made vast improvements over the years. We’re also used to typing in text when we want a search engine, an app, or an intelligent assistant to answer a question or help us complete a transaction. But what about natural language understanding technology? All of this incoming language, whether it be spoken or typed, has to be interpreted and understood before we can get back the answers we need.

LinguaSysOur intelligent assistants seem to understand us pretty well when we ask simple questions about the weather or fact-based questions like “what’s the capital of Wyoming?” But can they understand more complex statements? And can they understand them when we use different languages? LinguaSys is a niche player with a unique and very powerful offering that can make intelligent assistants smarter at understanding what we say. In fact, the LinguaSys technology powers many of the smart applications we use today that involve natural language input.

In talking with Garr about the LinguaSys technology, I learned that they have the keys to a veritable gold mine. The gold mine is a proprietary treasure trove of word meanings and semantic relationships that spans thousands of concepts and over 18 languages. The LinguaSys semantic network was built up over years, during which it offered machine translation software. The company’s products still include machine translation, but the same basic technology now enables the seamless translation and understanding of a huge range of possible conversational inputs. How does this work? In the LinguaSys database, word meanings, concepts, and relationships are stored in language neutral, symbolic format. That means the word “rainbow” has the same symbol no matter if the concept is uttered in Japanese, Urdu, or English.

The use case example that Garr used during our discussions was of someone wanting to make a reservation at a hotel that would also accommodate their poodle. A speech recognition engine can probably do a good job at translating the sounds into the right words. But what are the chances that it’ll know that a poodle is dog, which is a domesticated animal, also known as a pet? This type of conceptual understanding is embedded in the LinguaSys system. It would take a monumental amount of work to establish your own comprehensive semantic model to enable you to extract this type of understanding. You might be able to leverage something like Freebase for some applications. But then what happens when you need to start supporting other languages?

The Carabao Linguistic Virtual Machine, as the product offering is called, can basically be plugged into your application to give it an NLU boost. If you leverage the Carabao Linguistic VM for your hotel booking or general reservation system, the system will understand that when someone refers to their poodle, they’re looking for a pet-friendly accommodation.

Garr refers to the LinguaSys products as middleware. You can access the solution via the cloud or from your own on-premise deployment. Based on my understanding of the product set, they can be readily integrated into new or existing applications using industry standard protocols.

I don’t know what the pricing model is for access to the LinguaSys middleware. The solution may not be affordable for smaller companies or independent botmaster types, but I don’t know that for sure. If your product or technology depends on being able to correctly understand language input, and especially if you’re challenged with accepting input in multiple languages, this is a product you’ll likely want to explore.